FG Talks Tough Over Harassment Of Nigerians In Ghana

The Nigerian Government has gone on record to express its deep concern over the incessant harassment of its citizens in Ghana, and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities.

A statement released by Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture on Friday said Nigeria will no longer tolerate harassment of its citizens in West African country.

The Nigerian High Commission in Accra, Ghana was demolished in June 2020

“In this regard”, the statement further said, “the Federal Government is urgently considering a number of options aimed at ameliorating the situation”

The minister said the Federal Government has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities. such recorded acts 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 Jan. 2018 and Feb. 2019, 825 Nigerians were deported from
    Ghana.
  • Closure of shops belonging to Nigerians. Over 300 Nigerians shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018; over 600 Nigerian shops were locked in 2019 and, currently, over 250 Nigerians shops have been locked.
  • Residency Permit requirements, for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees, far higher than the fees charged by
    the Nigerian Immigration Service. 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 Act. When the Act was initially promulgated in 1994, a foreigner is 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.
  • Media war against Nigerians in Ghana. The negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude towards Nigerian traders and
    Nigerians in general. 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 Ghana’s Nsawam Maximum prison alone.

The Federal Government will like to put on record the fact that even though over 1 million Ghanaians are resident in Nigeria, they are not
being subjected to the kind of hostility being meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.

Last week, Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila, said that the closure of Nigerian shops contravenes ECOWAS trade protocols and calls for a decisive solution between both countries.

Closing of Nigerian-owned shops in Ghana must be dealt with decisively - Femi Gbajabiamila
  • In a statement by the Speaker on Wednesday, revealed that he had spoken with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama and the Minister of Trade, Otunba Niyi about the situation in Ghana.

Also, even though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government 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.

Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana. But indications, especially in recent
times, are that Nigeria’s stance is now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule.
This will no longer be tolerated under any guise.

In the meantime, the Federal Government wishes to appeal to its citizens resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self help, or taking the law into their own hands despite their ordeal.