Nigeria threatens action over closure of shops belonging to its citizens

Nigerian retail traders have been in the news after officials shut down their shops over an alleged lack of proper documentation

Nigeria has promised to take “urgent steps” following the closure of Nigerian retail shops in Ghana.

Last week, a task force supported by the Ministry of Trade and Industry went round Accra to lock up foreign retail shops which do not have proper documentation to operate in the local markets.

The action follows agitation by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), which threatened to take matters into its own hands if the government did not take any action.

In a Twitter post on Monday 17 August 2020, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, described the developments as shocking and warned of retaliation.

“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 tweeted.

Geoffrey Onyeama tweet

“We’ve given them enough time”

The tension between the two West African nations was revived after a Nigerian trader whose shop was closed forcefully by Ghanaian security officials claimed in a video that he had been asked to pay a registration fee of US$1 million.

Prince Boakye Boateng, head of communications at the Ministry of Trade in Trade, however, rejected claims that the Nigerian traders were being treated unfairly.

Boakye Boateng said that most of the Nigerian traders have failed to honour an ultimatum to meet the requirements.

He insisted that the closure of shops started only after the traders had been given enough time to get the documentation they needed.

“”It cannot be that we’ve been insensitive; if that is what they’re saying, I’ll be disappointed because I’ll rather say they have been unfair to us as a regulatory body because we have given them more time. Even the Ghanaians [in the retail market] thought that the ministry was not even on their side or the ministry wasn’t ready to even enforce the law,” Boakye Boateng told Accra-based Starr FM.

Shaky relationship

Ghana and Nigeria have not been on cordial diplomatic relations in recent months due to a series of events.

In June, some thugs demolished an uncompleted structure near the Nigerian High Commission in Osu in Accra.

The structure belonged to the Nigerian mission in Ghana, but the Osu Stool later claimed to own the land title.

President Akufo-Addo eventually called President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to apologise about the incident.

Meanwhile, before the COVID-19 lockdown, relations between both countries hit a low after Nigeria decided to close its border, which affected traders across the West African region, including Ghana.

E A Alanore

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

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