Nana Akufo-addo and Muhammadu Buhari

The Ghanaian government has refuted the accusations by the federal government of Nigeria that it is intimidating Nigerian traders in the country, even as it noted that President Nana Akufo- Addo has made overtures to President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the tension between the two biggest West African economies over row.

Ghana’s Minister of Information, Mr. Endkojo Nkrumah who said this in a statement on Sunday, noted that the country remained committed to the maintenance of warm relations with all sister nations, particularly Nigeria, and would proceed to resolve matters that could sour relations between the two countries.

Nkrumah regretted a statement by Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, accusing Ghana of persecuting Nigerians.

The minister noted that the outline of issues by the Nigerian government was not reflective of the developments in Ghana, and any protests, decisions or actions based on these reports would be unjustified.

He argued that there was no negative reportage on Nigerian residents in Ghana by the Ghanaian media, which could potentially lead to xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, particularly traders, insisting that the negative reportage has been against the Ghanaian government from high places, adding that tweets by Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, and a Nigerian businessman “who appears to have political interests in Ghana” in Nigeria, were inconsistent with established practice in the two countries’ good relations.

Responding to allegation of outrageous stipulations and amendments of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) Act, he described it as untrue, saying the law has been amended twice, and that there was no 2018 GIPC Act.

The minister added that perhaps, the reference is to Sections 27 (2 & 3) of the GIPC Act and relates solely to persons who are not citizens, but want to engage in retail trade or trading activities, which are otherwise restricted to Ghanaians.

“No Nigerian trader has been arrested. The closure of shops was as a result of infractions on Ghanaian laws. Even then, those affected who are not only Nigerians, have been given ample time to regularise their documents. Furthermore, no Nigerian- owned shops are currently closed,” he said.

On the allegation of aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana, which saw 825 Nigerians deported between January 2018 and February 2019, the Ghanaian government said the statement was not factual while explaining that in 2019, 700 Nigerians, who were found to have been involved in criminal activities such as fraud, prostitution, armed robbery, among others, were deported.

On the allegation that Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service, which includes the compulsory non- citizen ID card of $120 and $60 for yearly renewal, Ghana said the fee was not discriminatory as all foreigners who apply for resident permits in Ghana, pay the same fees.

Nkrumah stated: “The Government of Ghana notes, with concern, a statement, dated Friday, August 28, 2020, issued by the Ministry of Information and Culture and signed by the Federal Minister, Hon. Lai Mohammed, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, concerning current relations between Ghana and Nigeria.

“The aforementioned notwithstanding, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, who values very much his excellent relations with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, will engage President Buhari with a view to developing immediately a framework for validating claims of ill-treatment of citizens of either country and ensure citizens enjoy the full exercise of their rights, while respecting the sovereignty and laws of both countries. Ghana and Nigeria, as they have been doing, must continue to work together for a successful West Africa.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the other hand, is on record to have taken a number of steps in recent months, in pursuit of her national interests, which have gravely affected other countries in the region. These include the closure of Nigeria’s Seme-Krake border from August 2019 to date and the issuance of executive orders by Nigeria’s presidency, preventing foreigners from getting jobs which Nigerians can do, to mention a few. Ghana and other West African countries continue to believe redress to even actions like these can be sought, diplomatically, without resort to media statements and related activities that have the potential to aggravate further the situation.”