Nigeria warns Ghana over harassment of nationals

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The federal government says it will no longer tolerate the incessant harassment of its citizens in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities.

In a statement issued on Friday in Abuja, the government said it was urgently considering a number of options aimed at ameliorating the situation.

The statement signed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the government had been documenting the acts of hostility towards its people and authorities.

The minister listed such hostilities to include the seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian Government had used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years.

He said the government considered the action as a serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

Mr Mohammed added that the demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, was another serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

He said the government also frowned at the aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana, noting that between January 2018 and February 2019, no fewer than 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana.

Mr Mohammed noted that more than 300 Nigerian shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018, while over 600 Nigerian shops were locked in 2019, and currently, over 250 Nigerian shops had been locked.

“Residency Permit requirements for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees, (are) far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service,” he said.

“These include the compulsory Non-citizen ID card (120 U.S. dollars, and 60 U.S. dollars for yearly renewal), Medical examinations, including for Covid-19 which is newly-introduced (about 120 U.S. dollars), and payment for residency permit (400 U.S. dollars compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria).”

The minister also identified outrageous stipulations in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act.

“When the Act was initially promulgated in 1994, a foreigner was required to invest at least 300 000 U.S. dollars by way of equity capital and also employ 10 Ghanaians.

“This Act has now been amended twice, with the 2018 GIPC Act raising the minimum capital base for foreign-owned businesses to one million U.S. dollars.

“Though targeted at foreigners, it seems GIPC’s definition of foreigners is Nigerians. The GIPC Act also negates the ECOWAS Protocol.

The minister said the Federal Government frowned at the media war against Nigerians in Ghana.

“He raised the alarm that the negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media was 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 discriminately-long jail terms for convicted Nigerians.

“There are currently more than 200 Nigerians in the Nsawam Maximum prison in Ghana alone,” he said.

Mr Mohammed said the government would like to put on record the fact that even though more than one million Ghanaians are resident in Nigeria, they are not being 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 Federal Government 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.

“By contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties have not been seized.

“Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana.

“But indications, especially in recent times, are that Nigeria’s stance is now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule.

“This will no longer be tolerated under any guise,” he said.

According to Mr Mohammed, the government is appealing to its citizens resident in Ghana to remain law-abiding and avoid engaging in self-help, in spite of their ordeal. (NAN)

Read the full statement by the minister below:
NIGERIA WARNS GHANA, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

PRESS RELEASE FROM MINISTRY OF INFORMATION, ABUJA

Nigeria Will No Longer Tolerate Harassment of Its Citizens in Ghana – FG

The Nigerian Government is deeply concerned by the incessant harassment of its citizens in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities, and will no longer tolerate such.

In this regard, the Federal Government is urgently considering a number of options aimed at ameliorating the situation.

The Federal Government has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities. These include:

– Seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which the Nigerian Government has used as diplomatic premises for almost 50 years. This action is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

– Demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, another serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

– Aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana. Between Jan. 2018 and Feb. 2019, 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana.

– Closure of shops belonging to Nigerians. Over 300 Nigerians shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018; over 600 Nigerian shops were locked in 2019 and, currently, over 250 Nigerians shops have been locked.

– 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 (US$120, and US$60 for yearly renewal); Medical examinations, including for Covid-19 which is newly-introduced (about US$120), and payment for residency permit (US$400 compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria).

– Outrageous stipulations in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act. When the Act was initially promulgated in 1994, a foreigner is required to invest at least US$300,000 by way of equity capital and also employ 10 Ghanaians. This Act has now been amended twice, with the 2018 GIPC Act raising the minimum capital base for foreign-owned businesses to US$1m. Though targeted at foreigners, it seems GIPC’s definition of foreigners is Nigerians. The GIPC Act also negates 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.

The Federal Government will like to put on record the fact that even though over 1 million Ghanaians are resident in Nigeria, they are not being subjected to the kind of hostility being meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.

Also, Even though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government property at No. 10, Barnes Road in Accra is 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. By contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties have not been seized.

Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana. But indications, especially in recent times, are that Nigeria’s stance is now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule. This will no longer be tolerated under any guise.

In the meantime, the Federal Government wishes to appeal to its citizens resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self help, despite their ordeal.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed
Honourable Minister of Information and Culture
Abuja
28 Aug. 2020

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