By Alfred Olufemi for Premium Times
Ghanaian authorities have responded to several allegations made by the Nigerian government through information minister Lai Mohammed, over the treatment of Nigerian citizens in the country.
Mr Mohammed had on Friday accused the Ghanaian government of sabotaging its diplomatic relations with Nigeria.
In the statement published by PREMIUM TIMES, the Nigerian information minister accused the country of supporting incessant arrest and deportation of its citizens.
He mentioned the closure of shops belonging to Nigerians and cases of harassment which generated furore recently.
“Closure of shops belonging to Nigerians; over 300 Nigerians’ shops were locked for four months in Kumasi in 2018; over 600 Nigerians’ shops were locked in 2019 and, currently, over 250 Nigerians’ shops have been locked.”
He decried the residency permit requirements, for which the Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees, far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service.
“These include the compulsory Non-citizen ID card ($120, and $60 for yearly renewal); Medical examinations, including for COVID-19, which was newly-introduced (about $120), and payment for residency permit ($400 compared to the N7,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria),” Mr Mohammed said.
In a detailed letter issued by Ghanaian information minister, Kojo Nkrumah, the country responded to the accusations, insisting that it remains committed to the maintenance of warm relations with all sister nations including Nigeria.
“Ghana finds it imperative, however, from the onset, 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.”
On the alleged seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property, Mr Nkrumah said 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.”
Speaking on the demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, which Mr Mohammed claimed constitutes a breach of the Vienna Convention, the Ghanaian authorities said the High Commission failed to acquire the Lease and Land Title Certificate,
“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 A.D. 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.”
While addressing the issue of incessant deportation, Mr Nkrumah said the position of Mr Mohammed that 825 Nigerians were deported from Ghana in 2017, 2018 and 2019 was not correct.
“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.”
On the exorbitant fee for the residency permit, Mr Nkrumah indicated that all foreigners, who apply for the permit in Ghana, pay the same fees as stated above and that they are not specific to Nigerians only.
He also denied any media war against Nigerians in Ghana, saying there is 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.
He added that 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,” he stated.
The minister, however, promised that President Nana Akufo-Addo will engage President Muhammadu Buhari with a view to developing immediately a framework for validating the claims of ill-treatment of citizens of either country, and ensure citizens enjoy the full exercise of their rights.