OrderPaperToday-The House of Representatives has mandated the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Diaspora Matters to probe the recent attacks on Nigerian traders in Ghana.
The Green Chamber also directed them to ensure that the disturbing development is nipped in the bud to forestall another xenophobia attack on Nigerians.
These resolutions taken at Wednesday plenary were sequel to a motion titled “Recent attacks on Nigerian traders in Circle Market, Ghana”, sponsored by Mr. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe (APC, Oyo State).
Leading debate on the motion, Sodipe recalled the ugly experience of many Nigerians resident in South Africa, stressing that proper care needs to be taken in Ghana to avoid another xenophobic attack on Nigerians there.
The lawmaker revealed that on Sunday, December 1, 2019, over 600 shops belonging to foreign traders, particularly Nigerians at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Ghana were locked up by members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
According to her, this was not the first time the quest to rid the Ghanaian market of foreign traders who are engaging in retail businesses has occurred.
She noted that there was a case last month where Ghanaian traders at Opera Square in Accra locked up shops belonging to foreign nationals involved in retail business.
“Most of the shops were believed to belong to Nigerians. There was also a case in August last year where the Inter-Governmental Task Force constituted by the Government of Ghana in its bid to regulate retail trade arrested and detained 37 Nigerian traders and locked up about ten shops in Tip Toe Lane at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Ghana due to the failure of the traders to regularise their business concerns as prescribed by the local law and inability to provide necessary documents such as passports, resident/work permit among others.
“The House is concerned that the recent attack on Nigerian traders would become another xenophobia attack with loss of lives as GUTA had decided to take laws into their hands because according to them, the government had failed to enforce the GIPC law 865 article 27 and 28, which bars foreigners from doing retail business in Ghana.
“In 2018, the enforcement of the quit notice initiative commenced and it was properly communicated by the Ghanaian minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor-Botchwey, that this law would not affect Nigerians or other ECOWAS citizens.
“However, the National Association of Nigerian Traders warned the minister that the law could spark xenophobic attacks from ignorant persons but she assured the union that the Ghanaian government is ensuring that there is an understanding among Ghanaian traders that the quit notice initiative has nothing to do with Nigerian and other ECOWAS traders and that Nigerians should in no way interpret the issue as a future xenophobia against Nigerian traders.”
Sodipe expressed concern that the recent attacks which has resulted in three/four persons being injured and six persons arrested, could cause more havoc and strain the relationship with Nigeria.
Contributing to the debate, Mr Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno) attributed the closure of the Nigerian borders as the cause of attacks on Nigerians by neighbouring countries.
According to Jaha, “there is need for us to brace up from these challenges. We should engage leaders of our neighbouring countries to resolve these attacks,” he advised.
On his part, Mr Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) asked the federal government to be proactive to prevent future attacks on Nigerians abroad.
“In my place, there is a saying that you should look for a black goat in the day time before night comes. We need to question what is wrong with our Africanness. We have OAU. Each time, you have Africans against each other. In Nigeria, at no time have we had attacks on our brothers. The executive and legislature have made laws and polices that made easy for them to do business in Nigeria but the reverse is the case when we go there. There are legal ways to treat Nigerians there when they err”.
The motion was adopted by the House through a voice vote put by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila for further legislative action be made.