Nigerian traders in Ghana have lamented the continued closure of over 300 shops belonging to them.
Speaking with SaharaReporters on Tuesday, the President of the Nigerian Traders Union in Ghana, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, said Nigerians have found it difficult to survive as some shops have been locked up since December 2019 while some were locked in August 2020.
Nnaji said the ordeal of Nigerian traders in Ghana can be traced back to 2018 when an eviction notice was issued to foreign traders in the country.
Foreign nationals engaged in retail business in Ghana were on July 11, 2018, issued a quit notice to vacate the country’s markets. Ghanaian law reserves the operation of retail business only for citizens.
He explained that at the time, however, the Ghanaian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey, said that Nigerian traders and other ECOWAS citizens were not affected by the directive.
Nnaji said the exception of Nigerians and others did not go down well with locals who thereafter alleged that foreigners do not register their businesses.
This, Nnaji said, prompted the formation of an interagency task force to carry out what was referred to as 'sanitising the retail market'.
He said: "However, to please the local traders the government had to go ahead and shut down shops belonging to Nigerians. About 300 shops are still under lock and key. The shops have been locked now since August 2020. My shop is also among the ones locked up. Some people's shops have been locked since December 2019. Most of the business owners of these shops that are locked up have registered their businesses.”
Regarding their ordeal, he said, “It has been very difficult for us to survive. There are over 300 shops still closed including my own. We sample our wares in front of our shops as we speak.”
A notice attached to Nnaji's shop read, “This shop has been locked by a team of public regulatory institutions for non-compliance with the business operating requirements. Please note that any attempt to tamper with this notice, the padlock or any other public property applied to your shop without following due process will attract further sanctions.”
According to Nnaji, the group has reached out to the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Ghana, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission to come to their aid, all to no avail
He added: “We approached the ministers, which include Trade and Industry, Foreign Affairs, Interior and finally the NiDCOM, we were advised to be patient, that the Nigerian government will not abandon us. We are still waiting with optimism that the government will come to our aid. This was around November 9th and 10th 2020.
“We have been communicating since through the Nigerian High Commission staff. Even the Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Ghana on the inauguration of the President of Ghana. He told us that they were working on it but nothing has changed. Our shops are still under lock and key. As we speak now, some of the shops are forcefully broken into by the landlords in conjunction with local traders."
The group called for the intervention of the Nigerian government and the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission.