Richard Ginika Izuora
Authorities in Ghana has said that about 700 Nigerians allegedly involved in a number of criminal activities including armed robbery, fraud and prostitution were deported in 2019.
Ghanaian Minister of Information, Kojo Nkrumah disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.
Nkrumah, perhaps was reacting to a statement credited to Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed on Friday.
Mohammed, said the claim of deportation of 825 Nigerians by Ghanaian authorities was inaccurate.
Nkrumah said, “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.”
Further, the Minister denied a media war against Nigerians in Ghana by the Ghanaian media; which Mohammed said was fueling an emerging xenophobic attitude against Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general.
“The statement is not factual. There is no media war against Nigerians in Ghana. There are also no negative reports on Nigerian residents in Ghana by the Ghanaian media; which could potentially lead to xenophobic attitude towards Nigerians, particularly Nigerian traders in Ghana.’’
He denied a deliberate clampdown on Nigerians in Ghana, adding that the shutdown of shops affected other nationals.
“No Nigerian trader has been arrested. The closure of shops was a result of infractions on Ghanaian laws. Even then, those affected who are not only Nigerian, have been given ample time to regularise their documents. Furthermore, no Nigerian-owned shops are currently closed.
“Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry personally intervened to ensure the reopening of closed shops; pending compliance with Ghana’s laws by their operators. Ghana’s courts, at all material times, function independently, and with strict respect for the Laws of Ghana; regardless of the nationalities of accused persons
“Judges neither convict nor sentence with a bias for or against nationalities. Nigerians and Ghanaians convicted for same offenses are not treated differently.”
The Ghanaian government has insisted that assertions by Mohammed are not reflective of the developments in Ghana; noting that any protest or action based on such submissions will be unjustified.
Lai Mohammed had listed the seizure and demolition of properties owned by the Nigerian government in Ghana; the deportation of 825 Nigerians, closure of shops belonging to Nigerians; including the introduction of stringent residency permit requirements as part of Ghana’s acts of hostility against the country.
However, Nkrumah said in order to maintain its sisterly relations with Nigeria; Ghana could provide both the Ghanaian and Nigerian publics with a more reflective account of events.
He added that the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo would engage with President Muhammadu Buhari; with a view to developing immediately, a framework for validating claims of ill-treatment of citizens of either country.
“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,” Nkrumah said.
He said the statement on the seizure of the Nigerian mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra; which had been used as diplomatic premises by Nigeria for almost 50 years; and which action, is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention was inaccurate.
“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 Oct. 23, 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,” Nkrumah said.
The Ghanaian minister said Ghana does not own land in question; adding that it was not involved in the seizure of any property of the Nigerian High Commission in the country.
“The land in question is owned by the Osu Stool and managed by the Lands Commission. In response to the claim that the lease on some of the properties owned by the Ghana Mission in Nigeria has long expired, it must be noted that the 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.
“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.
‘‘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,” he added.