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Foreign Affairs Minister summons Nigeria’s chargé d’affaires in Ghana

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has summoned Nigeria’s chargé d’affaires in Ghana in connection with what she described as unfortunate comments made by Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey summoned Esther Adebola Arewa over allegations that the Ghana government was harassing Nigerian retailers to gain political capital in the run-up to the December elections. 

“Summoned Chargé d’Affaires of Nigeria to Ghana, Esther Adebola Arewa, to protest comments attributed to Nigeria FM,” Ms Botchwey tweeted.

“Comments against Ghana attributed to Nigerian FM @GeoffreyOnyeama that the Ghanaian government is harassing Nigerian retailers for 2020 electoral gains if indeed true will be most unfortunate as relations between our two countries [have] always been strong.

Onyeama’s claims

Diplomatic relations between Ghana and Nigeria have been strained recently following the eviction of Nigerian traders involved in the retail business in Ghana.

Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, threatened to retaliate.

“Nigerian government has watched with dismay the painful videos of the forceful closure of the shops of Nigerian traders in #Ghana. Urgent steps will be taken,” he wrote on Twitter.

Onyeama also alleged that the Ghana government’s decision to clamp down on foreign retailers was a ploy to garner votes in the upcoming elections.

This, however, did not sit well with Ghana’s Foreign Minister, who called Nigeria’s chargé d’affaires to protest about the comments.

No targeting

Ms Botchwey said that the closure of foreign-owned retail shops in Ghana is in line with the country’s laws. She said no particular country is being targeted, as is suggested by the Nigerian Foreign Minister.

Countries sometimes have to take hard decisions to enforce laws, she said. This was a direct reference to Nigeria’s unwillingness to open its border with Benin, which affected many Ghanaian traders.

“The question he is alleged to have asked about the essence of an economic community if at the end of the day we cannot trade is a good one. I believe that countries from time to time must take hard decisions to make policy or enforce laws,” she said.

She added: “On 10 August 2020, a six-week nationwide exercise including market visits to assess business operating documents of traders in Ghana took off.

“The exercise, which will be completed in September, has not targeted traders from any [specific] country.”

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