Following recent threats by the Nigerian Government, with regards to its current relations with Ghana, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, has assured that Ghana remains committed to the maintenance of warm relations with all sister nations.
In a statement addressing various accusations made by Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Federal Minister in Charge of Culture and Information, Mr Oppong Nkrumah added that Ghana would proceed to engage the Nigerian government with a view to resolving all matters that can damage the cordial relationships between the two countries.
In relations to the alleged seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property, which the Nigerian government described as a serious breach of the Vienna Convention, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the statement was inaccurate in the sense that “the transaction was a commercial arrangement between Thomas D. Hardy, a private citizen, and the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana on 23rd October, 1959. The terms of the Commercial Lease expired 46 years ago, without any evidence of renewal by the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana.”
Responding to the accusation that the Government of Ghana failed to notify Nigerian authorities about renewing the lease, the Information Minister explained that the Ghana Government had never owned the disputed land and that “the land in question is owned by the Osu Stool and managed by the Lands Commission.”
According to the Nigerian Government, Ghana is currently executing a media war against Nigerians in Ghana, which they believe can lead to xenophobic attacks.
“The immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops,” the Nigerian Minister had claimed.
Describing the statement as not factual, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said there had been no media war against Nigerians in Ghana, neither has any Nigerian trader been arrested.
“On the contrary, the negative reportage has been against the Ghanaian Government from high places (tweets by Foreign Minister of Nigeria and a Nigerian businessman, who appears to have political interests in Ghana) in Nigeria.
“This is inconsistent with established practice in our very good relations. The press release by the Information and Culture Minister of Nigeria is a clear departure from the manner in which officials of the two countries have related with each other in the past,” he said.
With regards to accusations that some 300, 600 and 250 shops belonging to Nigerians were closed down in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, Ghana’s Information Minister clarified that evidence points to the fact that some individuals, including Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, had been involved in various forms of trade without complying with the laws and regulations of Ghana. He said that led to the Minister for Trade and Industry intervening to ensure the reopening of closed shops, pending compliance with Ghana’s laws by the operators.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah mentioned some of the gross violations of retail trade laws and regulations by Ghanaians and foreigners, including some Nigerians, as tax evasion, immigration offenses, trading in sub-standard products, violation of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) law, among others.
“It is important to note that the compliance exercise under reference is not restricted to either ECOWAS nationals or Nigerians, for that matter, but extend to all individuals engaged in retail trade, including Ghanaians,” he said.
The Information Minister reminded the Nigerian Government of some measures it took recently, in pursuit of her national interests, which have gravely affected other countries in the region.
“These include the closure of Nigeria’s Seme Krake Border, from August 2019 to date, and the issuance of executive orders by Nigeria’s Presidency, preventing foreigners from getting jobs which Nigerians can do, to mention a few,” he said in the statement.
He assured the Nigerian Government that the President of Ghana, who values very much the excellent relations with the President of Nigeria, will jaw-jaw to find the best way of addressing the issues.