Nigeria-Ghana relationship that bloomed in the 70s have gone sour and may degenerate to breaking diplomatic relations at Ambassadorial level even to the extent of withdrawing diplomatic staff as Nigeria Friday turned the red eye to look into Ghana and catalogue her iniquities.
Nigeria, a highly referred country of Africa, in Abuja reeled out a litany of hostilities and harassments committed by Ghana against Nigerian interests and Nigerians and declared it will no longer tolerate future unfriendly acts.
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, stated categorically that the Nigerian government is urgently considering ” a number of options at ameliorating the situation”.
The government wondered why the Ghanaian authorities are maltreating Nigerians and hitting at Nigerian interest, when the over one million Ghanaians resident in Nigeria, are not being subjected to the kind of hostility being meted out to Nigerians in Ghana.
Among the hostile acts mentioned, apart from the harassment of Nigerian traders, was the demolition of a Nigerian Mission building and the seizure of another one, on the excuse of expired lease.
Patmos Media Line reported few minutes when the edifice was demolished that Ghanaian police looked away as hoodlums sent by a traditional ruler had a field day.
The Government of Ghana swore to bring the hoodlums and their sponsors to book and rebuild the structure but every act seems to have entered a silence mode.
Now from the countenance of Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria is fuming like an angry bull with the allegedly deliberate acts of the Ghanaian government.
His words: “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”, Lai Mohammed said.
The government, however, appealed to Nigerians resident in Ghana to remain law abiding and avoid engaging in self-help, despite their ordeal.
Part of the statement read:
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.
Nigeria and Ghana were the toast of best African relationship in the 70s which brought especially the Nigeria Ghana Sports Festival and a whole lot of socio-economic and cultural ties.