18 February 2013

West Africa: Traders Seek Jonathan, Ecowas Leaders' Intervention in Ghana

The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANT) has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of ECOWAS to intervene in the renewed hostility by the Ghanaian Authorities against Nigerian traders in Ghana.

The Ghanaian authorities were reported to have renewed the siege against foreign traders, as the Ministry of Trade and Industry allegedly clamped down on over 40 shops belonging to Nigerians.

The traders claimed that their shops were stormed by the officials of the ministry, who allegedly compelled them to pack their goods and thereafter had the shops under lock and key and went away with the keys.

The President of the Association, Mr. Ken Ukaoha, while reacting to the crisis, described the development as unfortunate. He called on the governments of Ghana and Nigeria to immediately confront the problem and nip it in the bud before it escalates into regional trouble.

Ukaoha, who said he could not understand why the Ghanaian Authorities embarked on such action at this period in time, said "Nigeria has been so resourceful and helpful to Ghana. This is a time for the new government in Ghana to remember this. I can authoritatively tell you that the last election in Ghana took some financial and political flesh out of Nigeria.

"That shows the extent which Nigeria regards Ghana as a brother and neighbour in West Africa. This understanding must therefore be appreciated and reciprocated by Ghanaian leaders throwing the emblem of peace at all fronts".

While maintaining that there is the need for the West Africa region leaders to intervene in the crisis, Ukaoha called on them "to stand up and assume the political will to deal with this problem once and for all. Nigeria-Ghana relationship should not be allowed to snowball into a crises situation before the Commission wades into it".

He expressed regret at the absence of ECOWAS Trade Policy which ought to have harmonised all member states trade policies and given every ECOWAS citizen the right as empowered through the Treaty (and the relevant Protocols on Free Movement, Rights of Residence and the Rights of Establishment) that established the regional entity, which he said, was imperative.

The President urged the Regional parliament to conclude fact finding mission it started at the instance of the memo written the association at the beginning of the hostility.

"While we appreciate the intervention of the ECOWAS Parliament which had in response to our initial memo and petition engaged the Ghanaian Authorities in a fact-finding mission on the subject matter, we still hope and appeal to the regional Parliament to conclude what it has started.

"The conclusion of the matter via Parliament is that the Ghana Investment Promotion Council Law (Act) 98 or so is a Parliamentary enactment and until the Ghanaian Parliament amends it, the ugly incidence will continue to roar. It takes the Parliament to set aside any Act of the Parliament. It is unfortunate that up till now, the ECOWAS Commission has refused to even respond to our Memos and letters to it on this very important matter.

He therefore urged the commission not to allow the relationship between the two countries to degenerate into a crisis situation before it wades into it.

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