The Federal Government has warned that it would no longer tolerate the harassment of Nigerians resident in Ghana by Ghanaian authorities, adding that it was considering a number of options aimed at addressing the situation.
The government stated that even though over one million Ghanaians were resident in Nigeria, they were not being subjected to the kind of hostility meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, observed that Nigeria had time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana, saying there were indications, especially in recent times, that Nigeria’s stance was being taken for granted.
Mohammed said that government was deeply concerned by the incessant harassment of Nigerians in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities, stressing that it would no longer tolerate such.
He noted that the Federal Government has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities.
“These include seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian Government has used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years. This action is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention. Demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, another serious breach of the Vienna Convention. Aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana. Between January 2018 and February 2019, 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana; and closure of shops belonging to Nigerians,” he said.
Mohammed further observed that over 300 shops belonging to Nigerians were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018, adding: “Over 600 Nigerian shops were locked in 2019 and, currently, over 250 Nigerians shops have been locked.”
He noted that the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees on residency permit requirements far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service.
He said: “These include the compulsory non-citizen ID card (US$120 and US$60 for yearly renewal); medical examinations, including for COVID-19, which is newly-introduced (about US$120) and payment for residency permit (US$400 compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria); outrageous stipulations in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act. When the Act was initially promulgated in 1994, a foreigner was required to invest at least US$300,000 by way of equity capital and also employ 10 Ghanaians. This Act has now been amended twice, with the 2018 GIPC Act raising the minimum capital base for foreign-owned businesses to US$1m. Though targeted at foreigners, it seems GIPC’s definition of foreigners is Nigerians. The GIPC Act also negates the ECOWAS Protocol.”
The minister further deplored the media war against Nigerians in Ghana, stressing that the negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media was fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude towards Nigerians.
“The immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops. Harsh and openly biased judicial trial and pronouncement of indiscriminately long jail terms for convicted Nigerians. There are currently over 200 Nigerians in the Nsawam Maximum prison in Ghana alone.
“Also, even though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government’s property at No. 10, Barnes Road in Accra is the non-renewal of lease after expiration, the Ghanaian authorities did not give Nigeria the right of first refusal or the notice to renew the lease.
“By contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties have not been seized,” he explained. He appealed to Nigerians resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self-help, despite their ordeal.