Nigeria traders in Ghana have raised the alarm over the closure of their shops by the country’s government.
Chukwuemeka Nnaji, president of the Nigerian Traders Union in Ghana, told NAN that shops belonging to Nigerian traders in Accra were locked up by Ghanaian authorities who demanded evidence of their Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) registration.
According to the GIPC, for general trading, the requirement is $1,000,000 minimum foreign equity, while registration fee is 31,500 cedis.
Nnaji explained that most of the traders could not afford the requirements for the registration, which they were given two weeks to pay.
He added that an inter-ministerial taskforce went round on August 10 to identify shops owned by Nigerian traders, requesting their registration of business taxes, resident permit, standard control and the GIPC.
Nnaji also noted that they were asked to “employ a minimum of 25 skilled Ghanaian workers” and “must not trade in commodities that Ghanaian traders have applied to trade in”.
He called on the federal government to come to their aid, saying their livelihoods are being affected.
“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,” said Nnaji.
This is what the Ghanaian government is doing to Nigerians… It's quite unfortunate that we don't have leadership in this country. pic.twitter.com/LN85NRItPZ
— #kiddwaya (@amchidox) August 15, 2020
“As of Thursday, they had moved to another area and started locking up shops of Nigerian traders.
“Nigerian life in Ghana matters. This is the livelihoods 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.
“The humiliation of Nigerians is getting out of hand. We are calling on the Nigerian government to come to our aid.”
He also said the traders had legally registered their businesses and they also pay taxes.
The development comes weeks after some armed men invaded the Nigerian high commission in Accra, demolishing some apartments that were under construction.
However, in response, the Ghanaian government said it would be unfair of the Nigerian traders to complain of insensitivity.
In an interview with Starr News, Boakye Boateng, head of communications in the country’s trade ministry, said the traders, who have been served notice for over a year, were pardoned in December following the intervention of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
“It cannot be that 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 on their side or the ministry wasn’t ready to even enforce law,” Boateng said.
“So, it’s very surprising to me for them to say that we’ve not given them enough time. If you recall as far back as December last year, these shops were locked, the president intervened and we asked that the shops be re-opened because the very law that gives GUTA the right to be the sole traders in our market, that same law requires that a certain group of people are those who can go and do law enforcement and not you, so allow us to do our work.
“They complied, the shops were opened. Since then we have given them an opportunity to regularise the document and submit it to us for verification, that has not been done. Now, this exercise started from Abossey-Okai on Monday. Because we have never been to Abossey-Okai for this exercise, when we went there we did not just start locking shops. We went there, we inspected the shops and we gave them notices that in 14-days they should ensure that all their necessary documentations be complete. These people have been served notices for over a year now.”
The development comes two months after armed men broke into the Nigerian high commission in Ghana and demolished a building under construction.
The Ghanaian government later apologised and promised to reconstruct the demolished building.