By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Friday in Abuja summoned the Ghanaian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Alhaji Rashid Bawa, to explain the alleged continued maltreatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana.
Over 400 shops belonging to Nigerians in Ghana have been under lock and key by the authorities in that country resulting to series of protests by National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and Nigerian Union of Traders Association Ghana (NUTAG).
Onyeama at the meeting also raised concern over the suicide committed by a Nigerian Woman in Ghana who was frustrated by the continued closure of her shop.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs reminded the envoy of the meeting held by President Muhammadu Buhari and his Ghanian counterpart Nana Akufo Addo in New York at the last UN General Assembly where the Ghanian leader promised to resolve the issue.
While stating that there were conflicting reports regarding the re-opening of those shops, he said the Ghanaian envoy was invited “to brief us on current situation” regarding the closure of Nigerian businesses in Ghana.
Responding, Bawa told the minister that the shops had been re-opened to their Nigerian owners adding that those that were not opened may be because the owners were not present.
He said other issues affecting the Nigerian traders were given due attention and would be resolved as soon as possible.
Bawa said, “I was in Accra at the invitation of the president to go have a look at what was happening on the ground. I spent two days on the ground, meeting with all stakeholders.
“Some of the shops at the time I visited ten days ago have been opened. Some have not yet been opened. Opening of shops are still on going as we speak.
“Those that have not been opened are locked because owners were not present at their shops. GUTA wants to open the shops with owners present”.
According to Bawa, about 80-85% of shops that were locked have been opened.
He also dismissed reports that a Nigerian in Ghana, Stella Upaleke, committed suicide because of frustration occasioned by the closure of her shop.
The General Secretary, Nigeria Union of Traders Association in Ghana Mr Jasper Eminike confirmed the reopening of the shops. He however noted that there were still many issues yet to be addressed.
According to Eminike, the woman who committed suicide, was frustrated due to the action of the Ghanian authorities, and the bank loan she was supposed to service.
He added that Nigerians in Ghana had been subjected to different kind of taxes which is in violation of the ECOWAS conventions and agreements.
Emenike, however appealed to the Ghanaian authorities to reduce the cost of registering business and totally exempt Nigerian traders from the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) Act, which he said was contrary to the spirit and letters of ECOWAs free movement protocol.
He also appealed that the government stops the relocation of Nigerian traders from their shops.
“We want to appeal that, in furtherance to the efforts being made, there is need to put a permanent end to this issue.
“There is also the need to stop charging Nigerian citizens I.D card fees, which cost $120 for registration and $60 for renewal every year,” he added.
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