By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives on Wednesday mandated the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs alongside the Committee on Diaspora Matters to consider and investigate the recent developments among traders in Ghana and ensure that another Xenophobia attack on Nigerians is prevented.
This resolution was as a result of a motion of urgent matter on: ‘Recent attacks on Nigerian traders in Circle Market, Ghana, stained by Tolulope Akande-Sadipe (APC, Oyo).
Sadipe while presenting the motion noted that as the Chairperson, House Committee on Diaspora, her primary duty is to represent the government and collaborate with the Nigerian Diaspora Commission and Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to put in place/implement modalities to improve the welfare of Nigerians in Diaspora.
According to the lawmaker, the House recalled that few months ago, she raised her voice on the Issue of Xenophobia, and urged the Federal Government to create additional air lifting opportunities to evacuate our citizens who are stranded in South Africa.
She said the House was: “informed that Sunday December 1, 2019, over 600 shops belonging to foreign traders particularly Nigerians at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Ghana were locked up by members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
“Also informed that this is not the first time the quest to rid the Ghanaian market of foreign traders who are engaging in retail businesses has occurred. There was a case last month where Ghanaian traders at Opera Square in Accra locked up shops belonging to foreign nationals involved in retail business. Most of the shops were believed to belong to Nigerians.
“There was also a case in August las year where the Inter-Governmental Task Force constituted by the Government of Ghana in its bid to regulate retail trade arrested and detained 37 Nigerian traders and locked up about ten shops in Tip Toe Lane at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Ghana due to the failure of the traders to regularize their business concerns as prescribed by the local law and inability to provide necessary documents such as passports, resident/work permit among others.
“Concerned that the recent attack on Nigerian traders would become another Xenophobia attack with loss of lives as GUTA had decided to take laws into their hands because according to them, the government had failed to enforce the GIPC law 865 article 27 and 28, which bars foreigners from doing retail business in Ghana. In 2018, the enforcement of the quit notice initiative commenced and it was properly communicated by the Ghanaian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey that this law would not affect Nigerians or other ECOWAS citizens.
“However, the National Association of Nigerian Traders warned the minister that the law could spark xenophobic attacks from ignorant persons but she assured the union that the Ghanaian government is ensuring that there is an understanding among Ghanaian traders that the quit notice initiative has nothing to do with Nigerian and other ECOWAS traders and that Nigerians should in no way interpret the issue as a future xenophobia against Nigerian traders.
“Aware that on December 2, 2019 the Ghanaian police in the bid to control the mayhem were pelted with stones by some of the traders, this act resulted to a repel attack by firing shots to control the crowd. Some arrests were made and detainees are currently undergoing further investigations at the police headquarters.
“Further aware that according to the President of Nigeria union of Traders in Ghana (NUTAG) – Mr. Chukwuemeka Levi Nnaji, Nigerian Traders were physically attacked on December 2, 2019. The claim is that the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) used the Ghanaian police force to lock the shops on the night of December 1, 2019 and when the Nigerian traders realized the morning of December 2, 2019 that their shops were locked and decided to break the padlocks, the Ghanaian Traders were agitated and started attacking Nigerians with all manner of weapons including woods and iron.
“Concerned that these attacks on Nigerians could be as a result of the President Muhammadu Buhari declaration in August on the closure of all land borders in order to prevent any import or export of products via road as a way of combatting illegal goods in our market. According to other ECOWAS countries the move goes against favourable trade provisions set out by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which promotes the movement and trade across the region’s borders. Traders in Ghana want the Ghanaian government to hit back at Nigeria with financial measures and basic law enforcement.
“Notes that the recent attacks have resulted to three/four persons being injured and six persons arrested. The Ghanaian officials and police force have called on all traders to call off the forced closures and blockades in the streets, believing that any clampdown could cause more havoc and strain the relationship with Nigeria”.
The motion was unanimously adopted via voice vote and the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila while ruling referred it to the House Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreements for further investigations.