Group condemns ongoing harassment of Nigerian traders in Ghana

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The Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN) has condemned the ongoing harassment, emotional torture and clear case of xenophobic attacks being metering to lawful Nigerian traders in Ghana by the host Government’s authorities (constituted Task Force) over the enforcement of Ghana Investment Promotion Act 2013.

The Pan-Nigerian Sensitization, Advocacy and Reorientation-driven non-governmental body with operational spread across the 36 States of the Federation and over 20 Diaspora Chapters, in a statement by the National Director (Media) Emmanuel Ohiomokhare, said a closer look at the Ghana Investment Promotion Act 2013 (865) reviewed and passed into law on 26 August 2013 in paragraph 27, barred FOREIGNERS from engaging in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market.

it also barred foreingners from petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place, the operation of taxi or car hire services in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty five vehicles, the operation of beauty salon or a barber shop, the printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services, the production of exercise books and other basic stationery, the retail of finished pharmaceutical products, the production, supply and retail of sachet water and all aspects of pool betting business and lotteries, except football pool.

The group further stated that in paragraph 28 (2),  “a person who is not a citizen may engage in a trading enterprise (includes purchasing and selling of imported goods and services) if that person invests in the enterprise, not less than one million United States dollars in cash or goods and services relevant to the investments, employ at least twenty skilled Ghanaians.

“There is another caveat in which the person is required to move out of the designated market places across the Country.

“This caveat literally translates that even if you met all the conditions in order to “buy and sell” financially, you must isolate yourself, probably enter the bush and develop your own market and perhaps, in event Government considers the new market location a ‘Designated Market Place’ in the future, the occupant looses the right to remain in such place and so should move to another bush to develop.

“Emphatically, while the Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria does not have any problems with the sovereign law of the Republic of Ghana regarding Foreigners, classifying Nigerians as foreigners in Ghana being Member State Citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is not only a clear violation of the spirit and letter of the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol but greatly undermines the ECOWAS Regional Integration Objectives.

“It is even more curious that Nigerian Traders for almost twenty years have been the selected victims and often political scapegoats at every election cycles in Ghana in the implementation of this Act,” PAN said.

The group added that, under the Mandate of ECOWAS on Free Movement, Article 2, Paragraph 2 and Article 27 on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment; Article 59 of the Revised Treaty of 1993 in which Ghans is signatory,  “member states undertake to adopt, at national level, all measures necessary for the effective implementation of this Article.”

Specifically, with respect to the third phase RIGHT OF ESTABLISHMENT (A/SP/ 5/90), which categorically touches on:

(a) access to non-salaried activities

(b) creation and management of enterprise

(c) Principle of non-discrimination

They said in keeping with the provision of the ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, had allowed Ghanaian citizens resident in Nigeria full and unfettered access into the local Nigerian markets without any form of harassments, intimidation, limitations or discrimination.

Pan added that they were engaging freely both in terms of retail trade and services and equally all manner of menial, non-salaried activities in Nigeria. They enjoy Government protection and live among the Nigerian citizenry across the Country. But in Ghana, reverse is the case.

The Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria while condemning the ongoing “slave-battering” Nigerian Traders are subjected to in Ghana and while following these despicable actions closely, hereby warns of dire consequences back home in Nigeria if these onslaughts are not speedily arrested.

“Nigerian Traders in Ghana are not slaves and the Government of Ghana are free to boldly communicate Nigerian Government for necessary actions if they no longer want Nigerians in their Country.

“The inconsistencies of the Ghanaian Government in the light of this escalating crisis is equally of grave concern to PAN. The Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria notes with disappointment, the recent statement by the Government of Ghana through the Minister of Foreign Affairs alleging that Ghana are implementing their law because Nigeria also violated ECOWAS Protocol by closing their border.

“The question is, since 2007 when Ghana started closing Nigerian Traders shops till date, were those actions occasioned by recent border closure? Did Nigeria violate ECOWAS Protocol by taking conscious steps to contain cross-border insurgency, check smuggling, address deliberate abuse of the provisions of ETLS -among others?

“The Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria, mindful of the deep and conscious engagements with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calls for more decisive and urgent actions by Federal Government towards finding a permanent solution to this recurring decimal, and to consider evacuating Nigerians in Ghana in their continued harassments and xenophobic attacks to avoid loss of lives and the attendant surprises. There is so much tension in Ghana now. Many Nigerians living in Ghana no longer feel safe and several of those affected by recent closures are financially and economically stranded.”

The group added that the Economic Community of West African States must awake to their responsibilities “when the opportunities are not exhausted. Otherwise, in the continuous violation of ECOWAS Protocol by member state without any corresponding sanctions, it then becomes clearer that Nigeria’s continued membership of ECOWAS is a total waste of time, energy and particularly, resources.”

The Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria said it strongly believed that “a stitch in time saves nine.”

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