By Bola Olajuwon and Vincent Ikuomola, Abuja
- ‘We are not ill-treating Nigerian businessmen’
- Akufo-Addo to meet President on matters of interest
The simmering diplomatic row between Nigeria and Ghana over the ill treatment to Nigerian traders in the neighbouring country is not about to abate.
The Ghanaians have faulted the claims by the Federal Government on the situation as well as other issues of interest raised last week.
Apart from insisting that Nigerians are not being singled out for maltreatment, the Ghana government faulted Nigeria’s border closure and the Executive Order signed by President Muhammadu Buhari preventing foreigners from getting jobs which Nigerians can do.
In a statement on Sunday, Ghana’s Minister of Information Endkojo Oppong Nkrumah, picking holes in the issues outlined by the Federal Government in a statement on Friday.
Nkruma, noted that the issues raised by his Nigerian counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, did not truly reflect the developments in Ghana.
According to him, it is on record that Nigeria has taken a number of steps in recent months, in pursuit of its national interests, which have gravely affected other countries in the West African region.
He said: “These include the closure of Nigeria’s Seme-Krake border from August 2019 to date and the issuance of executive orders by Nigeria’s Presidency, preventing foreigners from getting jobs, which Nigerians can do, to mention but a few.
“Ghana and other West African countries continue to believe redress to even actions like these can be sought, diplomatically, without resort to media statements and related activities that have the potential to aggravate further the situation.”
Nkrumah said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will be meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve whatever issue affecting both countries.
In a point-by-point response to each of the allegations, raised by Mohammed.
“Ghana remains committed to the maintenance of warm relations with all sister nations, particularly, for well-known historical reasons, with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and will proceed to engage the Federal Government of Nigeria with a view to resolving comprehensively and exhaustively any matters that have the potential to sour relations between the two countries.
“Ghana finds it imperative, however, from the outset, to state, for the public record, that the outline of issues by my Nigerian counterpart is not reflective of the developments in Ghana. Any protests, decisions or actions based on these reports will, thus, be unjustified.”
Nkrumah stated he was obliged, “therefore, as a first step, to provide our counterparts, as well as the Ghanaian and Nigerian publics, with a more reflective account of events, even as we pursue substantive diplomatic engagements to resolve matters”.
On the seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra, which Mohammed said had been used as diplomatic premises by the Nigerian Government for almost 50 years, he said: “This statement is inaccurate. The transaction was a commercial arrangement between Thomas D. Hardy, a private citizen and the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana on 23rd October 1959.
“The terms of the commercial lease expired 46 years ago, without any evidence of renewal by the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana. The Government of Ghana was not involved in the transaction and has not seized the property in question.”
He noted that Ghana “does not, did not and never owned the land, and has not been involved in the seizure of any property of the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana.
“The land in question is owned by the Osu Stool and managed by the Lands Commission”, the Ghanaian Information minister said.
In response to the claim that the lease on some of the properties owned by the Ghana Mission in Nigeria has long expired, he said: “It must be noted that the Ghana Government acquired a freehold land at Pope John Paul II Street in Abuja in 1989 through a commercial arrangement, and built the current structures on it. The staff of the Ghana High Commission in Abuja have been living there since the construction of the current structures.”
On demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, which allegedly constitutes another serious breach of the Vienna Convention, Nkrumah explained: “This statement is not factual. A search at the Lands Commission indicated that the Nigerian High Commission failed to complete the documentation process after paying for the land in the year 2000.
“The High Commission failed to acquire the Lease and Land Title Certificate, which constitute documentation for the 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 Ghanaian Government, but by agents of the Osu Stool. Nonetheless, 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 Nigerian High Commission, and has duly communicated same to the Nigerian Authorities.”
On the allegation of aggressive and deportation of Nigerians from Ghana between January 2018 and February last year, the minister also denied it, saying: “This statement is not factual. In 2019, 700 Nigerians, who were found to have been involved in criminal activities such as fraud, prostitution, armed robbery etc., were deported.”
On residency permit requirement, he said: “It must be noted that all foreigners who apply for resident permit in Ghana, pay same fees as stated above. These fees are not specific to Nigerians.”
Responding to the allegation of media war, he said: “The statement is not factual. There is no media war against Nigerians in Ghana. There is also no negative reportage on Nigerian residents in Ghana by Ghanaian media, which could potentially lead to xenophobic attitude towards Nigerians, particularly Nigerian traders in Ghana.
“No Nigerian trader has been arrested. The closure of shops was as a result of infractions on Ghanaian laws. Even then, those affected who are not only Nigerians, have been given ample time to regularise their documents. Furthermore, no Nigerian- owned shops are currently closed.”
The Ghanaian minister added that his country “has always demonstrated her commitment to excellent relations with Nigeria, which is evidenced by the manner in which Ghanaian Government officials dealt with recent issues, which have had severe economic impact on our country.”