The Ghanaian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Alhaji Rashid Bawa, has clarified the controversy surrounding the closure of 400 Nigerian businesses in Ashanti, Ghana.
Bawa made the clarification while speaking at a programme organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday in Lagos.
The envoy, who was represented by the Minister, Counsellor for Trade and Investment, Sintim Asare, explained that contrary to reports that 400 Nigerian businesses were closed, only 117 were shut in Ghana.
According to him, the businesses were closed because they were not registered, evaded tax, their owners did not have work permits and a large percentage of them dealt in fake drugs.
Bawa noted that the closure of the businesses did not affect only Nigerians but other nationals, including Chinese and Indians.
He said the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act, under which the businesses were shut, was meant to protect small businesses in the country by preventing non-Ghanaians from engaging in petty trade, adding that some of the closed businesses have been reopened.
“We are committed to the ECOWAS Treaty and we cannot fight Nigerians, because they are our brothers. Some of the 117 businesses have been reopened.
“For those that are still shut, the owners were given time to regularise their papers and they are doing that, while others have simply shut their shops out of fear of attacks or in solidarity with their brothers who have not opened theirs,” the envoy said.
Reacting, the representatives of various Nigerian businesses in Ghana said the reasons presented by the Ghanaian envoy were not true.
Also speaking, the President of Nigeria Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG), Chukwuemeka Nnaji, while citing similar occurrence in 2007, said the attacks on Nigerian businesses in Ghana have become a recurring trend.
Nnaji argued that the Act completely eroded the rights of other Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) citizens in Ghana, even as Ghanaian citizens continued to enjoy privileges all over West Africa.