ACCRA – The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Olufemi Michael Abikoye, has strongly condemned the renewed attacks on Nigerian traders by their Ghanaian counterparts.
However, he has appealed to the Nigerian traders to remain calm and never take laws into their hands, as the High Commission is doing everything possible to resolve the issue.
Addressing Nigerian traders in Accra, Amb Abikoye assured them that there is an on-going dialogue between the High Commissioner and Ghanaian Government functionaries on the best way to permanently put the situation under control.
Ghanaian traders, under the auspices of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), on Monday, 2nd December, 2019, carried out another round of attacks on Nigerian retailers in that country.
The attackers, wielding various weapons carried out the attack at Circle Tip Toe Lane, near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra, Ghana. The attack occurred following an attempt by the Nigerians to reopen their shops which were locked on Sunday, 1st December, 2019, by members of GUTA allegedly using staff of the Ghana Police Force. This led to a clash between the two sides.
To ensure the safety of lives and property of the Nigerian traders, the Nigerian High Commission swiftly contacted the Ghana Police Force to come to their rescue by mobilising sufficient personnel to disarm the invading attackers as well as restoring peace and normalcy in the area.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Amb. Michael Olufemi Abikoye, also sought the intervention of various Ghanaian establishments to ensure that the illegally locked shops were immediately opened.
However, the shops are said to still be under lock as the situation is still a bit tense. Meanwhile, for the records, no lives were lost during the incidence, but seven (7) arrests were made, four (4) of who are Nigerians: Uche Onwurah, Chizoba Onwurah, Abuchi Kenneth, Onyekachi Iheoma and Darlington Logo, and three (3) Ghanaians.
Meanwhile, the District Police Commander, Nima Police Station, ACP. Abraham Acquaye, has advised that the shops should remain locked for possible dialogue to take place.
In the aftermath of the attacks, an Executive member of GUTA, Mr. Eric Gumfi, in a press statement on Monday, 2nd December, 2019, further threatened that GUTA will continue with the closure of all shops belonging to foreigners in ensuring the GIPC Act is enforced. The pre-meditated attacks on the Nigerian retailers followed the expiration of a purported one-week ultimatum issued by GUTA on 18th November 2019, for the Ghanaian Government to begin unilaterally enforcing the controversial Ghana Investment Protection Commission (GIPC) Act that they claim bars foreigners from retail trade in the country and also for the foreign traders to clear the goods in their shops or face the wrath of the association.
Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act states that any foreigner or enterprise that is not wholly-owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place. Recall that there has been on-going tension between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders of recent, with almost 1,000 shops belonging to Nigerian traders being illegally shot down by the GUTA members.
The excuse for their action was linked to Nigeria’s temporal closure of its land border and the shortlisting of about 45 products from the ECOWAS trade liberalisation scheme (ETLS), an action which they claimed crippled their trading activities with Nigeria.
Given the above scenario, it is pertinent to note that such attacks by GUTA which could threaten the national security of both countries and mar bilateral relations may likely continue if drastic steps are not taken by both Governments to address the issue amicably.