The federal government has warned the Ghanaian authorities that it would no longer tolerate the incessant harassment and acts of hostility towards Nigerian citizens in Ghana.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, issued the warning in a statement yesterday.
It also emerged yesterday that 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana between January 2018 and February 2019.
The minister said the federal government was deeply concerned by the hostile act and would no longer condone such.
Mohammed added that the federal government was urgently considering a number of options aimed at redressing the situation.
Although, the minister of information was silent on the likely measures Nigeria would take against Ghana to protest the harassment of Nigerians, but sources said last night the Nigerian government would soon roll out a number of stiff measures against Ghana and Ghanaian interest in the country.
The minister said the federal government had documented acts of hostility by the Ghanaian authorities towards Nigeria and Nigerians.
He said the unfriendly acts included the seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian government used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years.
He frowned that the action was a serious breach of the Vienna Convention which was ratified in 1969.
He accused Ghana of demolishing the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, also in breach of the Vienna Convention.
Mohammed also flayed Ghana for aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana, noting that between January 2018 and February 2019, 825 Nigerians were deported from that country.
“Closure of shops belonging to Nigerians; over 300 Nigerians’ shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018; over 600 Nigerians’ shops were locked in 2019 and, currently, over 250 Nigerians’ shops have been locked.”
He also listed ”Residency Permit requirements, for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees, far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service. These include the compulsory Non-citizen ID card ($120, and $60 for yearly renewal); Medical examinations, including for COVID-19, which was newly-introduced (about $120), and payment for residency permit ($400 compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria),” Mohammed said.
He also listed the outrageous stipulations in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act as another act of hostility. He said when the Act was promulgated in 1994, a foreigner was required to invest at least $300,000 by way of equity capital and to also employ 10 Ghanaians.
However, he lamented that the same Act has now been amended twice, with the 2018 GIPC Act raising the minimum capital base for foreign-owned businesses to $1 million, saying that although it was targeted at foreigners, it appeared GIPC’s definition of foreigners is Nigerians. He also noted that GIPC Act negated the ECOWAS Protocol.
”Media war against Nigerians in Ghana; the negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude towards Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general. The immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops.
”Harsh and openly-biased judicial trial and pronouncement of indiscriminately-long jail terms for convicted Nigerians; there are currently over 200 Nigerians in the Nsawam Maximum prison in Ghana alone,” Mohammed said.
The minister said the federal government would like to put on record the fact that on the contrary, the over one million Ghanaians who reside in Nigeria are not subjected to the kind of hostility being meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.
He added that although the main reason given for the seizure of the federal government’s property at No. 10, Barnes Road in Accra was the non-renewal of lease after expiration, the Ghanaian authorities did not give Nigeria the right of first refusal or the notice to renew the lease.
He also said that by contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties had not been seized.
Mohammed noted that Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana, but that indications, especially in recent times, were that Nigeria’s stance was now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule.
He vowed this would no longer be tolerated under any guise, while appealing to Nigerian citizens resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self-help, despite their ordeal.