Over 753 Nigerians living in Ghana, mostly traders, have asked to be evacuated following alleged harassment, intimidation, torture and threat to life by Ghanaians and their authorities.
Their shops, they said, have been locked for almost a year by the authorities.
The Nigerian Union of Traders Association in Ghana (NUTAG) said the diplomatic niceties between Nigeria and Ghana have not yielded results.
The traders said their landlords were asking for rent despite the shops remaining locked.
In a “Save our Soul” letter to the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, they claimed they were dying under the heavy yoke the Ghanaian authorities placed on them.
The letter was presented by a delegation led by the President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Dr Ken Ukoaha.
He was accompanied by NUTAG President, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, and members.
They also visited the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, in Abuja.
They told reporters after the meeting that their request for evacuation was because of many of them now struggle to survive.
Ukaoha said: “As traders, this is our mother ministry, and that is why we have come to meet with the minister and convey our final decision to be safely evacuated from Ghana.
“Nigerian traders in Ghana are being tortured, intimidated, harassed, apart from being subjected to all manners of frustrations by the government and people of Ghana since 2007.
“Imagine our businesses being under lock and key for several months by Ghanaian authorities. Some traders who borrowed money from banks to transact businesses cannot pay back and some goods are getting expired.
“Having consciously reviewed our situation and counted the costs, we have solemnly resolved to leave Ghana in peace before it is too late.
“This is particularly to avoid our members being compelled by nature into criminal activities or shamefully turning to beggars on the streets of Ghana as a survival strategy that will demean Nigeria’s integrity among the comity of nations.
“We are, therefore, appealing to our government to make necessary arrangements to organise and embark on the immediate evacuation of our members and investments from Ghana,” he said.
Ukaoha urged the Federal Government to take necessary steps to liaise with relevant Ghanaian authorities to ensure that their goods and properties are safely returned to Nigeria.
He said it was sad that their shops remained locked after many traders had complied with the laws, despite their contradicting the provisions of the ECOWAS treaty and protocols.
Ukaoha noted that the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana has been meeting with the Ghanaian government towards resolving the matter.
“There has been a litany of diplomatic dialogue and several engagements initiated by the government of Nigeria had taken place on the same subject matter without any tangible solution,” he said.
Nnaji said, at least, 753 Nigerians have indicated an interest in returning.
“We need to generate money to renew rents, pay school fees, settle bills, but we cannot do so because our shops have been locked up.
“We want to come back home because our children can no longer return to school and landlords are demanding rents when our shops have been locked.
“There are about 753 Nigerian traders who are ready to come home as the first batch of evacuees from Ghana,” he said.
According to him, the Ghanaian government is relying on the Ghana Investment Promotion Act 865 to demand $1 million from each trader upfront.
He added that the alternative is the equivalent of the sum in equity before being allowed to start a business or to continue doing business in the retail sector in Ghana.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said the government would not abandon Nigerians in Ghana.
She said it was sad that their shops had not been reopened for almost a year, citing draconian conditions which, according to her, are against ECOWAS Protocols on free trade and movement of goods and services.
The NIDCOM boss, however, pleaded with the traders not to allow tempers rise as she will convey their demands to the appropriate authorities.
Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said Nigeria would welcome back its citizens.
Culled from The Nation