By Lizzy Okoji
Abuja, Aug. 17, 2020
Foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama says Nigeria may have to approach the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court for a lasting solution to the continuous attack on Nigerian traders in Ghana.
Onyeama made this known on Monday in Abuja when representatives of the Nigerian traders in Ghana under the Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN) paid him a visit.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the association visited Onyeama to solicit for the urgent intervention of the Nigerian government in the recurring attacks on Nigerian traders in Ghana.
Onyeama said that the Nigerian government had proactively swung into action immediately to address the situation within the shortest time possible.
The Minister, however, noted that one of the measures for a concrete solution was to get in touch with ECOWAS to know its perspective on the situation and if the Ghanaian retail code was in contravention to ECOWAS protocols.
Onyeama said it is also very important to get all the facts of the situation before the Nigerian government could act and engage with the Ghanaian authorities.
“What is the point of having an economic community if at the end of the day each country will make laws and regulations in contradiction of that?
“This has been a recurring nightmare and concrete measures need to be taken and the first step we want to take is to be sure of all the facts before we act.
“So, this will entail hearing from the Ghanaian government, the Minister of Trade is going to engage his Ghanaian counterpart.
“We have summoned the Ghanaian High Commissioner, who has given us information; we have the intention of recalling our Charge d affaires in Ghana for consultations.
“We need to get the facts because she is on the ground there.
“We are also going to get in touch with ECOWAS to also understand clearly what the ECOWAS perspective on this is, with this law that is in contravention of the ECOWAS protocol.
“So, once we have all the facts then we will consider all our options with the Ghanaian government; we don’t want to anticipate what our actions will be but all our options will depend on the facts.
“Clearly, if it is contravening the ECOWAS protocol, then we would have to now look at ECOWAS solution, including the ECOWAS court as a final arbiter,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama said another issue to be looked into is on reciprocity, stating that Nigeria had created an enabling environment for Ghanaians to operate in Nigeria and expect Ghana to reciprocate that gesture.
He assured that the Nigerian traders are following this proactively and that the matter would be addressed in “the shortest times possible”.
The Minister also said that ahead of the upcoming elections in Ghana, the Nigerian government hopes Nigerians will not be pawns in the whole electioneering process.
Speaking earlier, Mr Jasper Emenike, President of PAN had, on behalf of the Nigerian traders in Ghana, called for the urgent intervention of the Nigerian government to “de-escalate the burning tensions”.
Lamenting the unjust treatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana, Emenike said Ghanaian retail traders enjoy ease of doing business in Nigeria without any harassment but regretted that its nationals were denied such privilege in Ghana.
“What is most urgent is for the Nigerian government to deescalate the ongoing tensions to avoid people being killed in the process,” he said.
He also called on Onyeama to see to the review of the Nigerian foreign policy, especially as it affects Nigerian retail trading in Ghana.
He appreciated the Nigerian government for its interventions in previous years.