Ghanaian govt defends $1million trader’s levy, faults Nigerian borders’ closure

The Ghanaian government may have imposed the $1million levy on traders in the country, including Nigeria, due to certain steps taken by Nigerian government to protect the former’s interest.

This was revealed in a statement issued by the Ghana’s Ministry of Information on Sunday. The statement was in reaction to claims by Lai Mohammed of closing of Nigerian-owned shops by Ghanaian authorities and seizure of properties owned by the Nigerian High Commission.

This comes as both countries have traded words over the closure of Nigerian-owned shops in Ghana, with the Ghanaian Foreign Minister citing the border closure policy by President Buhari as affecting the revenues of Ghanaian exporters.

Back story: Themoneymetrics earlier reported that the Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila stated that the closure of Nigerian shops contravenes ECOWAS trade protocols and called for a decisive solution between both countries.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama took matters on by summoning Ghana’s Chargé d’Affaires to Nigeria, Ms. Iva Denoo, to discuss the closure of Nigerian-owned shops in Accra.

Onyeama also met with a  delegation from the Nigerian Traders in Ghana to propose steps towards ensuring that the traders get their shops reopened. The delegation of Nigerian traders was led by Mr. Jasper Emenike, the National President of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN) and the organisation’s National Director, Hon. Ruth Ango.

Reacting to the crisis, Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey stated that Nigeria’s border closure in 2019 has hurt Ghanaians and nearly bankrupted many Ghanaian businesses after their goods were stuck in the Seme Border for months.

August 2019 saw Nigeria close its land borders without notice to community trade. Explanation- ‘To stop smuggling and to protect local industries from imported/smuggled rice, etc.’

“Of course, this decision ended up hurting Ghanaian exporters and brought many of them to their knees financially as trucks were stuck at the Seme Krake border for months,” she said.

Ghanaian’s defence

Citing the accusation that 300, 600 and 250 Nigerian owned shops were closed in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively, it said, “Upon evidence 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, several engagements and prior advice had been given to encourage compliance.

“Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry personally intervened to ensure reopening of the closed shops, pending compliance with Ghana’s laws.”

On seizure of the High Commission building located at No. 10 Barnes road, Accra, the former Gold Coast minister said terms of the lease between Nigeria and a private citizen named Thomas. D. hardy expired 46 years ago without any evidence of renewal by the Nigerian government. The government said it was not involved in the transaction that occurred on 23rd October 1959 and has not seized the property in question.

On the demolition of a building located at No 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, Accra, the government argued that Nigeria failed to complete the proper documentation after acquiring the property in the year 2000. It stated that Nigeria’s High Commission failed to purchase the Land and Lease Title Certificates.

It added, “The demolition was not carried out by the Ghanaian government but by agents of the Osu Stool. Ghana has decided to return the property to the Nigerian government to preserve relationships between both nations.”

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