Threaten retaliation over continued closure of shops
James Emejo in Abuja
The President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Mr. Ken Ukaoha, yesterday raised the alarm over allegations that Nigerian traders in Ghana were being harassed and attacked by state sponsored thugs while the country police looked away.
He said Nigerians appeared to be no longer safe in Ghana and urged the Nigerian Government to take urgent steps to salvage the situation. NANTS had recently petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) over the closure of over 400 businesses owned by Nigerians in Ghana, following the passage of a law which required businesses to have up to $1 million in working capital.
Despite latest assurances from the President of Ghana, Koffi Nana-Akudo, who had ordered the re-opening of the shops as well from ECOWAS parliament following recent protests, Ukaoha expressed the disappointment of the association that the situation had become worse as the businesses remained closed.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, he said xenophobic attacks have started in Ghana as Nigerians who attempted to reopen their shops were attacked with machete.
He said there appeared to be hypocrisy on the part of the government of Ghana towards resolving the tense situation.
The group further wondered why it was taking Ghana an eternity to enforce the order of the president to reopen closed businesses.
He said: “This matter started since 2007 and till date, this same subject has been hanging on the necks of both countries and ECOWAS unresolved.
“We don’t understand why Nigerians living in Ghana should be treated like animals. We don’t understand why the relationship will be heading towards a xenophobic dimension. We don’t understand what the Ghanaian Government and the people are gaining by maltreating Nigerians.”
“We don’t understand what the Ghanaian Government and her people are gaining by attacking Nigerian traders and closing over 400 shops for several months now- locking up the livelihood of the people with no just cause.”
The NANTS president also said the latest reports of killing and maiming of Nigerians would adversely affect bilateral relations between both countries.
According to him, “Till date all the shops remain closed. What does it take the government of Ghana to do the needful? We want the international community to hear this. I want to be frank here; the water has gone beyond what we can swallow and we are vomiting it.
“And in this regard, although our government is trying its best to ensure that there’s a diplomatic solution to this matter, we are fed up with the government of Ghana.
“We may be pushed to the wall to take reactive steps, and nobody should hold us accountable for the people of Ghana- over two million Ghanaians who are living in Nigeria. We know what to do.
“We can retaliate, we can act and we have our own way too. We are being punished for doing nothing.”
Ukaoha said Nigerian traders were being punished for doing nothing, stressing that the newly introduced law which targeted their businesses was inconsistent with ECOWAS parliament trade agreements.