Four days after videos of Ghanaian authorities forcefully closed down shops owned by Nigerians over failure to pay $1 million equity needed to continue operating in the country, the Nigerian government on Monday reacted, saying it will soon take urgent steps.
Without stating the steps to be taken, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, said via his official Twitter handle that “Nigerian Government has watched with dismay the painful videos of the forceful closure of the shops of Nigerian traders in #Ghana. Urgent steps will be taken.”
Mr. Chukwuemeka Nnaji, President of Nigerian Traders Union in Ghana, had on Saturday decried Ghanaian authorities’ closure of the shops which could only be unlocked with the cash payment of the $1 million.
Nnaji said that on August 10, 2020, an inter-Ministerial Task Force went round to identify shops owned by Nigerian traders and requested for registration of business taxes, resident permit, standard control and Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) registration.
“Most of our members do not have the GIPC registration, because it requires one million dollars cash or equity and they gave us 14 days within which to regularise. As of Thursday, they had moved to another area and started locking up shops of Nigerian traders.
“Nigerian life in Ghana matters. This is livelihood of Nigerians being destroyed by Ghanaian Authorities. This is not being perpetrated by a trade union, but Ghanaian authorities. “They demanded that we must employ a minimum of 25 skilled Ghanaian workers and must not trade in commodities that Ghanaian traders have applied to trade in,” Nnaji said.
“The humiliation of Nigerians is getting out of hand. We are calling on the Nigerian government to come to our aid. We have legally registered our businesses and we pay taxes,” Nnaji said.
The Ghanaian Ministry of Trades has rejected claims of unfair treatment by Nigerian traders in the country during the enforcement of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council regulations.
Speaking on the incident on a Ghanaian radio station, Starrfm, Head of Communications, Ministry of Trade, Prince Boakye Boateng, said the Nigerian traders had failed to honour an ultimatum to meet the requirements.
He said, “It cannot be we’ve been insensitive. If that is what they’re saying, I’ll be disappointed because I’ll rather say they have rather been unfair to us as a regulatory body because we have given them more time than enough to the extent even the Ghanaians thought that the Ministry was not even on their side or the Ministry wasn’t ready to even enforce the law.”
Boating explained that the traders complied but have not regularised their documents for verification, adding that the law being enforced gave the Ghana Union of Traders Association the right to be the sole traders in the local market.
He insisted that the traders must pay the required taxes and other fees imposed on them by the authorities.
The shops belonging to Nigerians were initially locked last December. But it was later re-opened following the intervention of President Nana Akufo-Ado.
This resolution was because of the intervention of Presidents of Ghana and Nigeria, through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
A Nigerian trader whose shop was forcefully locked up by the Ghanaian security officials had recorded a video of the incident in which they asked him to pay the $1 million registration fee.
The victim had shown the officials his business registration certificate and other documents but the enforcement team was adamant as they insisted on shutting his premises.