The National Association of Nigerian Traders on Monday stormed the Economic Community of West African States’ secretariat located in Abuja to protest the alleged closure of shops belonging to Nigerians in Ghana.
The protest, which began at about 9:30am, partially paralyzed activities at the ECOWAS Secretariat.
The protesters marched through the streets of Yakubu Gowon Way in Asokoro, a development that led to traffic gridlock in the area.
They carried placards with various inscriptions such as: ‘We need ECOWAS intervention’, ‘Ghana, re-open Nigeria’s shops now’, ‘ECOWAS, the situation in Ghana is totally unacceptable’, and ‘Ghana wants AfCTA secretariat but clamps down on African traders’, among others.
Speaking during the protest, the President, NANT, Ken Ukaoha, said that the association was protesting the alleged victimisation of Nigerian businessmen in Ghana.
He stated that the development had got so bad that a law was recently passed by the Ghanaian parliament seeking to make the business environment hostile to foreign investors.
Ukaoha said since Ghana was a signatory to the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and services, there was a need for the commission to caution the government of Ghana.
He added that the association was giving the commission a one-week ultimatum to intervene in the matter, adding that if nothing was done, it would deploy all its members to occupy the premises of the ECOWAS Secretariat.
Ukaoha stated that already, the association had written petitions to the President of ECOWAS, Jean-Claude Brou, and President Muhammadu Buhari on the development.
A copy of the petition to ECOWAS dated September 24 was made available to our correspondent.
It read in part, “This is a save our soul call and the 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 the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“You are very much aware that we wrote you, raised the alarm and reported to the commission several times of the discriminatory and unfair treatment meted to Nigerian traders and Nigerian-owned small businesses in Ghana when 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 of July, 2018.
“In August 2018, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the GIPC and the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations in a joint operations established a task force with specific mandate to clamp down on Nigerian traders and which had eventually resulted in the ongoing 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 demanding that we must have $1m as minimum foreign investment capital to do business in Ghana.”