The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) partially paralysed activities at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja, on Monday as they protested the alleged closure of more than 400 shops belonging to Nigerians in Ghana.
The protesters carried placards, some which read: “We need ECOWAS intervention,” “Ghana re-open Nigeria’s shops now,” “ECOWAS, the situation in Ghana is totally unacceptable,” “Ghana wants AfCTA secretariat but clamps on African traders.”
Mr Ken Ukaoha, President of the association said that the association was protesting the alleged victimisation of Nigerian businessmen in Ghana.
According to him, the association has written petitions to the President of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Brou and President Muhammadu Buhari before embarking on the protest.
He said that the development had gone so bad that a law was recently passed by the Ghanaian Government seeking to make the business environment hostile to foreign investors.
According to him, since Ghana is a signatory to the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of persons, goods and services, there is need for the Commission to call the government of Ghana to order.
He said the association was giving the commission one week ultimatum to intervene in the matter, adding that if nothing was done, the association would deploy all its members to occupy the premises of ECOWAS.
The petition, dated Sept. 24, also stated that the ECOWAS secretariat should tell the Government and people of Ghana to stop xenophobic attacks on Nigerian traders.
It alleged that more than 400 Nigerian-owned shops under lock and key in Ghana should be opened.
The petition, made available to newsmen, states that it was a “Save Our Soul (SOS)” call.
“Urgency of this protest is to inform you of the state of fear, uncertainty and insecurity that Nigerian traders are currently subjected to in the hands of the government and people of Ghana in different cities under the coordination of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“You are very much aware that we wrote you, raised alarm and reported to the commission several times, of the discriminatory and unfair treatment meted on Nigerian traders and Nigerian-owned small businesses in Ghana.
“The Ghana Ministry of Trade and Industry issued a public notice and gave an ultimatum that all Non-Ghanaians should move out of markets on the 27th July 2018.
“In August, 2018, the Ministry, in a joint operation with Ghana Union of Traders Association, established a task force with specific mandate to clamp down on Nigerian traders.
”This eventually resulted in the closure of over 400 Nigerian traders’ shops and lawfully established businesses in Kumasi, Ashanti region of Ghana.
“Our members are shut out of their business premises in pursuance of the eviction order dated July 27, 2018 and demanding that we must have one million dollars as minimum foreign investment capital to do business in Ghana.”
The protesters also took their grievances to the Ghana High Commission, in Abuja.