A special investigation.
The decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to close the Nigerian boarders which affected some West African Countries is the reason why many Nigerians moving on that axis are suffering now.
One security officer, Mr. Vincent, “do you know the frustration your government is causing us for locking up the Nigerian borders? “
A Patmos Media Line investigations show that Nigerians, especially those travelling across the border up to Accra, Ghana are being ripped off by the security personnel including Immigration and Customs who are operating there without due regard to the ECOWAS treaty that stipulates free movement.
From the Benin border, A Nigerian numbered car is already an oil well for Customs and police. While the people inside are free meals for Immigration officers.
At the Benin Republic, all papers needed to cross the borders all paid for in Lagos before departure yet the officers at the border insisted on taking 20,000 CFA for a reason that was not stated. After 3 hours of delay, and their asking fee was paid without receipt the passenger was allowed to go.
Fuming that we should no pay to the driver, why we are not supposed to pay any fee since we have paid for all ECOWAS documents and fees, he smiled as if we are from another planet. “Oga na so dem dey do us oh”, obviously he is used to it.
At Togo, an empty gallon which we used in buying petrol in Nigeria was seen in the trunk of car, the border police insisted that we must pay 40,000 CFA. About 10 other Nigerian vehicles were stopped with each asked to pay not less than 20,000 CFA just for been a Nigerian.
Not everybody has the ability to purchase a car in Ghana; as a result, most Nigerians drive their Nigerian Registered car in accordance with the ECOWAS treaty of May 1979. But the reverse is the case.
Ghana was more terrible with the Customs department, After checking my documents the gentleman said he is not sure I am the owner of the car, despite my name written on all original papers and had my driver’s license with the same name. I thought it was one of those jokes, after delaying us for another two hours, my driver came back to me, “Oga give this people something make we go a beg, all this law no dey work here". We paid in every checking point until we finally got to Accra.
Pantang, Kasoa, Spintex road are hot zones for exploitation because of the numbers of Nigerians living in these areas. Your driving a Nigerian Numbered car will get you stopped every day by the patrol teams. Some even follow you to your house, officers jumping a fence, some officers even went as far as calling the electricity company to switch off the light in the area to allow them to cut an electric fence of a Nigerian man living on the Dodowa road despite we have to pay 500 dollars for renewal of resident permit annually in an ECOWAS country.
You have to renew your car permit every 30 days with a penalty of 5 ghc (400 naira) every day if you default in payment. The security officer, after checking my papers, looked at me and said “as far as you are in my country, I can stop you anywhere and anytime to check your papers”.
During the lockdown, most people could not go to the border to renew their papers, with many not knowing it can be renewed at the GRA office in Accra, no notice was sent to Nigerian drivers, it was not announced in any of the media platforms but they expected us to know anyway.
Another Nigerian driver who was arrested was allowed to go, He told me in igbo that I should give them money. One of the officers came into my car to ask me Oga how far, as soon as he saw my Press Tag, the story changed because they know this may be trouble. 15 cars including mine were taken to Tema custom warehouse.
A document of detention was issued to me, right in my eyes; some of the cars were allowed to go, obviously, you know the reason right? I was the only Nigerian Arrested. I took the paper I went to GRA head office the next morning, only to meet with a custom woman who chased me out like a sick dog. “Go and write a letter to the Assistant commissioner don’t come here and give me any wahala “. I went outside confused and thinking if I have met her before not to think of offending her. In that confused state, one of the junior officers came out and explained to me how to type the letter, Didn’t know that was the beginning of a terrible experience. I submitted the letter and was asked to do a follow up. I went to and fro for two weeks every day.
One morning, I went to one of the officers, Mr. Vincent, I told him how frustrated I was, his response was “do you know the frustration your government is causing us for locking up the Nigerian borders?” There and then I read the handwriting on the wall. I climbed up to assistance commissioner Preventive’s office where I met a lady, Agnes who was very professional and helpful, she called all the relevant offices and told me the officer in charge has been admitted.
After a series of calls, the officer told me the battery of my car ran down so I have to bring a technician to go open a car that is detained in their custody. I had no choice I took the technician from Accra to Tema to go open the car. It took another one week of up and down before I finally got the Verdict of document compelling me to go pay duty for a car I already paid the duties in an ECOWAS country.
I got back the next day June 1st to regularize my documents only to be handed an administrative fee of 1200 GHS excluding the normal fees I was supposed to pay, I got there at 9 am, with more than 50 Nigerians also there to fix their papers. I spoke with many who told me I am lucky, some have had to pay above 4,000 GHC an equivalent of 300,000 Naira. One told me his car was arrested with him, his mother's wife and family. He has spent over 7,000 to no avail.
We were made to sit beside an abandoned toilet for more than 6 hours. When the document finally came, it was written that after paying all the fees, my car should still be detained until borders are opened before the car can be deported back. It took another two days to change what the woman called a mistake from the Commissioner, I had to call a staff of Nigerian Embassy; The president of South South community in Ghana, (Mr. Tony); The ANC welfare officer (Mr. Emmanuel) before I was finally handed a release letter to pick up my car.
The appropriate Ministries in Nigeria including Nigerian embassies in each country mentioned should send undercover investigators to see how Nigerians suffer on these routes.
All activities there are against the ECOWAS treaty and a vengeance against the policies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which seem not to favor their personal goal of self-enrichment.
- By our special Reporter.