Ghana­ians en­raged over bor­der clo­sure

• Or­der Nige­rian bus­nesses to leave mar­kets by Nov 14 • Cus­toms halts fuel sup­ply to fron­tier filling sta­tions

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - By Chuk­wuma Muanya, Femi Adekoya and Su­lai­mon Salau

NIGE­RI­ANS do­ing busi­ness in Ghana have been asked to quit their shops by Thurs­day, Novem­ber 14, 2019 or be forcibly evicted in ap­par­ent re­tal­i­a­tion against the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s clo­sure of the bor­ders. The ul­ti­ma­tum was is­sued by the Ghana Union of Traders’ As­so­ci­a­tions (GUTA) and the Ghana Elec­tri­cal Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (GEDA).

One of the no­tices sighted yesterday at strate­gic lo­ca­tions in mar­kets across Ghana, es­pe­cially in Ku­masi, reads in cap­i­tal let

ters: “At­ten­tion! At­ten­tion! At­ten­tion! Ac­cord­ing to Ghana In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Cen­tre (GIPC) Law Act 865 Sec­tion 27A, you are not to be in our mar­ket. We are by this no­tice in­form­ing you to leave our mar­ket by 14th Novem­ber 2019. By GUTA.”

An­other no­tice states: “Warn­ing! Warn­ing! Warn­ing! The agree­ment between GUTA, GEDA and the for­eign­ers in our mar­ket place is up. So, the for­eign­ers are given up to this week­end to abide by the agree­ment to leave our mar­ket places or they will be force­fully com­pelled to abide by it. By GEDA and GUTA.”

A Nige­rian trader in Ghana told The Guardian: “They have closed some of the shops and threat­ened to close the shops be­long­ing to Nige­ri­ans be­fore Novem­ber 14. They are an­gry be­cause of Nige­ria’s bor­der clo­sure, which has af­fected their busi­nesses.

“The threat and no­tice for Nige­ri­ans to quit their mar­ket premises has been on for about 15 years now. There is an on­go­ing gov­ern­ment cam­paign to send Nige­ri­ans back to their coun­try. Since the present gov­ern­ment in Ghana got into power, Nige­ri­ans are be­ing de­ported for lack of work per­mit, pros­ti­tu­tion, fraud and other ex­cuses.

“They have in­creased the cost of get­ting a work per­mit and tax­a­tion of Nige­rian busi­nesses in or­der to frus­trate them. Even when you pay for all these, it might take, at least, three months to get back your in­ter­na­tional pass­port.”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port by the BBC,“More than 100 for­eign-owned shops are get­ting shut down by Ghana­ian traders in the coun­try’s sec­ond largest city, Ku­masi. Most of the shops are run by Nige­ri­ans. The traders shut­ting down the shops say they’re be­ing run il­le­gally but the shop own­ers deny this.”

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ac­cra and Abuja gov­ern­ments re­port­edly met on Mon­day, Novem­ber 4, 2019, to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­i­ties of open­ing Nige­ria’s bor­der to Ghana­ian traders.

The bor­der was closed in Au­gust 2019 to pre­vent the smug­gling of prod­ucts from neigh­bour­ing West African coun­tries. Many trucks have since been stranded at the Seme bor­der. Over the week­end, the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment an­nounced that the re­stric­tion would re­main till Jan­uary 31, 2020. Ghana’s deputy trade and in­dus­try min­is­ter, Carlos Ahenko­rah, while speak­ing on The Big Is­sue over the week­end said he was hope­ful that both par­ties would reach an agree­ment to fa­cil­i­tate trade.

The pres­i­dent of Nige­ria Union of Traders As­so­ci­a­tion, Ghana (NUTAG), Chuk­wue­meka Nnaji, had ear­lier told The Guardian that de­spite the pro­vi­sions of ECOWAS pro­to­cols, Ghana’s use of its GIPC Act 865, Sec­tion 27 (1a) of 2013, flouts the pro­vi­sions on rules of en­gage­ment.

He said while Ghana con­tin­ues to en­joy the priv­i­leges con­ferred on ECOWAS citizens in the re­gion, the gov­ern­ment and its peo­ple keep pro­hibit­ing other citizens from do­ing the same in Ghana.

“De­spite the dis­cus­sions between Nige­rian and Ghana­ian gov­ern­ments at the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York, the or­deal of Nige­rian traders in Ghana es­ca­lated as the Ghana Union Traders As­so­ci­a­tion took a dif­fer­ent turn by at­tack­ing busi­nesses in the Ashanti re­gion.

“Get­ting a res­i­dence per­mit is more dif­fi­cult than get­ting the USA Green Card. The con­di­tions are enor­mous. Al­ready, we are ad­vis­ing Nige­rian traders to leave Ghana un­til the chal­lenges are ad­dressed, es­pe­cially as Ghana Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices are equally crack­ing down on for­eign­ers, par­tic­u­larly Nige­ri­ans,” he said.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Ghana High Com­mis­sion, Sin­tim Barimah Asare, at a re­cent fo­rum, ap­pealed for calm and un­der­stand­ing among op­er­a­tors, pledg­ing that his coun­try re­mains com­mit­ted to the ECOWAS treaty. He said the Ghana­ian gov­ern­ment seeks to pro­tect its petty traders from un­due com­pe­ti­tion, stress­ing that the GIPC law is for medium and large en­ter­prises and not for mi­cro busi­nesses.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the

Nige­ria-ghana Busi­ness Coun­cil, Ms Abi­ola Ogun­biyi, called for an un­der­stand­ing of the pro­vi­sions of the ECOWAS treaty. She said while pro­vi­sions of the re­gional in­te­gra­tion treaty pre­sup­pose that things are work­ing, the re­al­ity is dif­fer­ent. The pres­i­dent of the La­gos Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (LCCI), Ba­batunde Run­sewe, noted that the use of do­mes­tic poli­cies that negate the spirit of eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion in the sub-re­gion limit bi­lat­eral ties among mem­ber coun­tries.

“There are nu­mer­ous in­sti­tu­tional and in­fra­struc­ture prob­lems mil­i­tat­ing against the lofty ob­jec­tives of ECOWAS. We, there­fore, need to tackle the cur­rent frus­trat­ing bar­ri­ers to trade in the sub-re­gion. “The trade treaties are not be­ing fully im­ple­mented. Com­pli­ance lev­els are very low and com­mit­ment to the trade pro­to­cols is very weak. Af­ter 43 years of ECOWAS, we are still grap­pling with nu­mer­ous tar­iff and non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers to trade.” he said. The Nige­ria Cus­toms Ser­vice (NCS) mean­while has halted the sup­ply of petroleum prod­ucts to filling sta­tions within 20 kilo­me­tres of all the land bor­ders. The di­rec­tive might not be un­con­nected with al­le­ga­tions that op­er­a­tors of some bor­der filling sta­tions were con­niv­ing with crim­i­nals to smug­gle fuel to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

Comp­trol­ler Gen­eral of Cus­toms, Hameed Ali, who gave the di­rec­tive through a memo signed by Chidi A, the Deputy Comp­trol­ler Gen­eral (En­force­ment, In­spec­tion and Investigat­ion), said petroleum tankers must not be al­lowed to dis­charge con­tents within said dis­tances.

AGF and Justice Min­is­ter Malami

Ghana Pres­i­dent Nana Akufo-addo

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