Thursday, October 1, 2020

Hostility: Ghana extends olive branch to Nigeria

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Ghana

Following the riot act read by the Federal Government to hostility towards Nigerians in Ghana, the Ghanaian authorities have extended the olive branch, promising a commitment to maintaining warm relations with Nigeria.

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Ghanaian authority said it would engage the Nigerian Federal Government with a view to comprehensively and comprehensively resolving issues that have the potential to sour relations between the two countries.

The statement signed by Ghana’s Information Minister Endkojo Oppong-Nkrumah was made available to journalists in Abuja by the Nigerian Ministry of Information and Culture.

It should be recalled that the Federal Government had said in a statement on Saturday that it would no longer tolerate the incessant harassment of its citizens in Ghana and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by the Ghanaian authorities.

The statement signed by Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted that the government was urgently considering a number of options aimed at improving the situation.

Mohammed had listed the documented acts of hostility against Nigerians and the authorities by Ghana in the statement.

In response to the federal government’s protest, the Ghanaian authority expressed concern and denied any acts of hostility towards Nigeria and its citizens in Ghana, as alleged by the federal government.

The statement is read in its entirety;

“The Government of Ghana notes with concern a statement, dated Friday, August 28, 2020, issued by the Ministry of Information and Culture and signed by the Federal Minister, Hon. Lai Mohammed, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, on current relations between Ghana and Nigeria.

Ghana remains committed to maintaining cordial relations with all sister nations, in particular, for well-known historical reasons, with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and will proceed to engage in discussions with the Federal Government of Nigeria with a view to resolving comprehensively and exhaustively any issues that have the potential to sour relations between the two countries.

However, Ghana finds it imperative, from the outset, to state, for the public record, that my Nigerian counterpart’s summary of the problems does not reflect developments in Ghana. Any protest, decision or action based on these reports will therefore be unjustified.

We are therefore obliged, as a first step, to provide our counterparts, as well as the publics in Ghana and Nigeria, with a more thoughtful account of events, even as we seek substantive diplomatic engagements to resolve matters.

(I) Accusation:

The seizure of property from the Nigerian Mission located at 10 Barnes Road, Accra, which has been used as a diplomatic venue by the Nigerian Government for almost 50 years; And what action, it is a serious violation of the Vienna Convention.

Reply:

This statement is inaccurate. The transaction was a business agreement between Thomas D. Hardy, a private citizen, and the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana on October 23, 1959.

The terms of the commercial lease expired 46 years ago, without any evidence of renewal by the Nigerian High Commissioner in Ghana. The Government of Ghana was not involved in the transaction and has not seized the property in question.

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(II) Accusation:

Furthermore, although the main reason given for the seizure of the Federal Government property at No. 10 Barnes Road in Accra is the non-renewal of the lease after its expiration, the Ghanaian authority did not grant Nigeria the right of first refusal or the renewal notice. the rent. Instead, the lease for some of the properties occupied by the Ghana Mission in Nigeria has long expired, but those properties have not been seized.

Answer: The Government of Ghana does not own the land, did not own the land and has never been involved in the seizure of any property from the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana. The land in question is owned by the Osu Stool and is managed by the Land Commission.

In response to the claim that the lease for some of the properties owned by the Ghana Mission in Nigeria has long expired, it should be noted that the Government acquired a freehold land on Pope John Paul II Street in Abuja in 1989 through a trade agreement, and built the current structures on it. Staff from the Ghana High Commission in Abuja have been living there since the current structures were built.

(III) Accusation:

Demolition of the Nigerian Mission property located at no. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, which is another serious violation of the Vienna Convention.

Reply:

This statement is not factual. A search of the Land Commission indicated that the Nigerian High Commission did not complete the documentation process after paying for the land in 2000 AD. The High Commission was unable to acquire the Certificate of Lease and Land Title, which constitute documentation for said property, as well as a building permit for construction. In Ghana, land is owned not only by the Government, but also by Stools and Families.

The demolition of the property was not carried out by agents of the Government of Ghana, but by agents of the Osu Stool. However, the Government of Ghana, valuing the relations between our two countries, has decided to restore the property, at its own cost, to its original state for the High Commission of Nigeria, and has duly communicated this to the Nigerian Authorities. The Government of Ghana is also committed to facilitating the proper acquisition of the title by the Nigerian High Commission, as announced by the Ghanaian Foreign Minister at the time of the incident.

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(IV) Accusation:

Aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana. Between January 2018 and February 2019, eight hundred twenty-five (825) Nigerians were deported from Ghana.

Reply:

This statement is not factual. In 2019, seven hundred (700) Nigerians, who were found to have been involved in criminal activities such as fraud, prostitution, armed robbery, etc., were deported.

(V) Accusation:

Residence permit requirement, for which the Ghana Immigration Service has charged huge fees much higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service. These include the mandatory non-citizen identification card (US $ 120, US $ 60 for annual renewal); medical examinations, including COVID-19, which has recently been introduced (around US $ 120), and payment for a residence permit (US $ 400 compared to the 700,000 Nina paid by Ghanaians by the residence card in Nigeria).

Reply:

It should be noted that all foreigners applying for a residence permit in Ghana pay the same fees as indicated above. These rates are not specific to Nigerians.

(VI) Accusation:

“Media war against Nigerians in Ghana. Negative reporting on issues related to Nigerians living in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fueling an emerging xenophobic attitude against Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general.

The immediate consequences are the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian merchants and the closure of their stores. “

Reply:

The statement is not factual. There is no media war against Nigerians in Ghana.

There is also no negative reporting on Nigerian residents in Ghana by the Ghanaian media, which could lead to a xenophobic attitude towards Nigerians, particularly Nigerian merchants in Ghana.

No Nigerian trader has been arrested. The store closures were due to violations of Ghanaian laws. Even then, those affected, who are not only Nigerians, have had enough time to regularize their documents. Also, no Nigerian-owned stores are currently closed.

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On the contrary, negative reporting has been against the Government of Ghana from high positions (tweets from the Nigerian Foreign Minister and a Nigerian businessman, who appears to have political interests in Ghana), in Nigeria. This is inconsistent with established practice in our very good relationships. The Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture’s press release is a clear departure from the way officials in the two countries have communicated in the past.

(VII) Accusation:

“Nigeria has shown time and again its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana. But there are signs, especially in recent times, that Nigeria’s position is now taken for granted and its citizens harassed and ridiculed. This will no longer be tolerated under any pretext. “

Answer: Ghana has always demonstrated its commitment to excellent relations with Nigeria, as evidenced by the way Ghanaian government officials dealt with recent issues, which have had a severe economic impact on our country.

Ghana did not resort to any media warfare. However, Ghana’s Foreign and Trade Ministers traveled to Abuja to try to diplomatically resolve the issue of Nigerian border closure and seek a safe corridor for ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) exports from Ghana, all in vain. The response of the Nigerian authorities to evolving situations in our relationships is expected to be guided by the merits of the matter and our mutual interests.

(VIII) Accusation:

That three hundred (300), six hundred (600) and two hundred and fifty (250) stores owned by Nigerians were closed in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively

Reply:

Faced with evidence that some individuals, including Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, had engaged in various forms of trade, without complying with Ghanaian laws and regulations, various commitments and prior advice had been provided to encourage compliance.

The Ghanaian Minister of Commerce and Industry personally intervened to ensure the reopening of the closed stores, pending compliance with Ghanaian laws by their operators.

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Among other remedial actions, the Foreign in Retail Committee, made up of representatives from various Ghanaian regulatory bodies and institutions, was tasked with the responsibility of conducting inspections of retail stores in designated business districts of Accra and Kumasi to ensure compliance. of the retail trade. laws and regulations.

Compliance exercises conducted in selected markets revealed serious violations of retail trade laws and regulations by Ghanaians and foreigners, including Nigerians. These violations included tax evasion, immigration offenses, trade in substandard products, violation of Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) law, improper business registration, underpayment of business operating permits, falsification of documents , among others.

In all cases, non-compliant store owners are given adequate notice to regularize their documents, before action is taken to close any store / business.

It is an indisputable fact that some foreigners, including Nigerians, abuse and disregard local laws and regulations governing retail, which must be addressed without discrimination. It is important to note that the aforementioned compliance exercise is not limited to ECOWAS nationals or Nigerians, but extends to all individuals involved in retail, including Ghanaians.

(IX) Accusation:

Severe and openly biased judicial trial and indiscriminately long prison sentences for convicted Nigerians.

Reply:

The Courts of Ghana, at all material times, operate independently and in strict respect of the laws of Ghana, regardless of the nationality of the accused. The judges do not condemn or condemn with prejudices in favor or against nationalities. Nigerians and Ghanaians convicted of the same crimes are not treated differently.

(X) Accusation:

Outrageous stipulations and amendments to the GIPC Act.

Reply:

It is not true that the law has been amended twice and consequently there is no GIPC Law of 2018. Furthermore, the claim that a revision of the Law has increased the minimum capital base for foreign-owned companies to 1 00 million US dollars is false.

Perhaps the reference is to sections 27 (2 and 3) of the GIPC Act and refers only to persons who are not citizens but who wish to engage in retail or commercial activities, which are otherwise restricted exclusively to Ghanaians . In consecuense,

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“A person who is not a citizen may participate in a business enterprise if that person invests in the business, not less than US $ 1 million in cash or investment-relevant goods and services. Trade includes the buying and selling of goods and imported services. The amount does not relate to the wide universe of investors. We are also somewhat astonished that the laws of a sovereign nation are described as scandalous, especially since they have not attracted rejection or criticism from any regional organization, especially

ECOWAS.

The Federal Republic, for its part, is aware that in recent months it has adopted a series of measures in defense of its national interests, which have seriously affected other countries in the Region. These include the closure of the Seme Krake border in Nigeria from August 2019 to date and the issuance of executive orders by the Nigerian presidency, preventing foreigners from getting jobs that Nigerians can do, to name a few. Ghana and other West African countries continue to believe that redress can be sought even for actions like these, diplomatically, without resorting to statements and media activities that have the potential to further aggravate the situation.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who highly values ​​her excellent relations with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, will engage with President Buhari with a view to immediately developing a framework to validate allegations of ill-treatment of the citizens. of either country and ensure that citizens enjoy the full exercise of their rights while respecting the sovereignty and laws of both countries. Ghana and Nigeria, as they have been doing, must continue to work together to achieve a successful West Africa.

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