A Nigerian international media entrepreneur has described as unfair the treatment being meted out to Nigerian retail traders in Ghana.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday (19 August), Chief Dele Momodu, Chairman of Ovation Media Group, said the forced closure of some shops owned by Nigerians in Accra violates the spirit of pan-Africanism.
“I note with sadness the viral videos of Nigerian investors being flogged and thrown out of their shops in Ghana,” Momodu said. “As an avowed pan-Africanist and a fanatical disciple of former Ghanaian President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, I have become traumatized about the future of Africa. The Osagyefo must be seething with anger and rage in his grave, if he could see how Africans are treating themselves at this time and age,” he added.
The publisher of the society magazine Ovation said the action of the Ghanaian authorities constituted a threat to the cordial relationship between the two West African countries.
Nigerian retailers in the Ghanaian capital are being forced to close shop ostensibly for violating a law stipulating that a foreigner that wants to engage in retail trade must invest a minimum capital of $1 million.
Section 28(2) of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act, 865, expressly outlines the conditions under which a person who is not a citizen can engage in trading activities.
It provides that a person who is not a citizen may engage in a trading enterprise if that person invests in the enterprise, not less than US$1 million in cash or goods and services relevant to the investments.
Nigerians allege that the law, which Momodu describes as “atrocious”, is targeted at them, as Lebanese and Chinese traders are spared by the authorities.
“How many companies in the world started business with such stupendous amount?” the Ovation Media Group chair asked.
“If the Europeans and Americans had promulgated such laws against Nigerians and Ghanaians living abroad, many of us would have accused them of racism and discrimination,” the veteran journalist said.
“Just imagine that this is coming at a momentous period when the world is campaigning that Black Lives Matter, but Nigerians are being kicked around like football by our closest brothers and friends. And what is the excuse for this act? An incredibly brutal “Law” which stipulates that foreign small-scale traders must invest $1 million in the Ghanaian economy,” Momodu said.
“What is worse, some of these traders actually have their valid papers and registered long before the coming of this atrocious requirement by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, but the Law enforcers blatantly refused to listen to the cries of these hardworking but hapless traders,” he added.
The Ghanaian Ministry of Trades has rejected claims of unfair treatment by Nigerian traders in the country, saying its officials were only enforcing the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre regulations.
Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, leader of a group representing Nigerian traders operating in Ghana, Nze Ugo-Akpe Onwuka, said the traders were running out of patience because they had waited for seven years for the Nigerian government to intervene but to no avail.
Onwuka said, “We have had enough. This has been going on for seven years, we are being harassed and targeted even though our documentation is up to date.
“Where is the ECOWAS protocol? This is not right. We have Ghanaians doing business here and they are not being harassed. Some of us employ them to work for us in Ghana, yet the authorities there harass us for no just cause.”
Met with a delegation from the Nigerian Traders in Ghana led by Mr. Jasper Emenike, National President, Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN) and Hon. Ruth Ango, National Director (PAN). pic.twitter.com/3jxaFyUeWV
— Geoffrey Onyeama (@GeoffreyOnyeama) August 17, 2020
Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama tweeted on Tuesday that his government summoned the Chargé d’Affaires of Ghana to Nigeria, Ms Iva Denoo, to a meeting to “protest the recent forceful closure of the shops of Nigerian traders in Ghana and to demand an urgent resolution”.
He said the Nigerian government had “watched with dismay, the painful videos of the forceful closure of the shops of Nigerian traders in Ghana”, adding: “Urgent steps will be taken”.
Onyeama has also been reported to have said that Nigeria might drag Ghana to the Community Court of Justice of the regional bloc ECOWAS if found to have breached its Protocol of Free Movement of Peoples, hinting that Nigeria was considering retaliatory actions.