The National Association of Nigerian Traders is warning the quit notice issued to foreigners operating in the Ghanaian retail business sector could spark xenophobic attacks.
It said the consistent directive to by the Ghana government to foreigners, mostly Nigerians, engaged in retailing is not only “unguarded” but breaches the ECOWAS on free movement which Ghana is a party to.
In its view, as far as ECOWAS protocols are concerned, Nigerian retailers in Ghana are no more “foreigners” but citizens of Ghana who are engaged in legitimate businesses.
Ghana on July 11 issued a public notice to foreigners engaged in retail business, which is reserved for only Ghanaian nationals, to cease by July 27 or face legal action.
Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Law 2013, (Act 865) states: “A person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.”
“Notice is hereby given to all non-Ghanaians who are engaged in retail trading activities contrary to the provision of the Act [GIPC Law 2013] to desist from doing so,” a public notice published in the national dailies by the Trade and Industry Ministry read it part.
It continued: “All persons engaged in such practices are therefore advised to stop to avoid legal actions being taken against them. Offenders are entreated to move out of the markets by Friday, July 27, 2018,”
The government however announced a suspension of notice before the deadline elapsed.
It explained that the decision to indefinitely suspend the enforcement of the provisions of the laws on retail business was taken after consultation with stakeholders.
But the National Association of Nigerian Traders in a statement dated July 27 said it fears the issue of Ghana persistently serving quit notices may degenerate into xenophobic attacks.
“Our fear is that mistrusts arising from unguarded actions like the quit notices endorsed and officially announced by the Government of Ghana can only (with time) build divisions and segregation that have the potential and capacity to trigger xenophobic attacks” it said
The Association said its disappointment with the order by Ghana stems Article 2 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Rights of Residence and the Rights of Establishment.
“The National Executive Council of NANTS hereby expresses strong resentment over this consistent and repeated threats to Nigerian citizens doing business in Ghana,” it said.
The Association said it is “specifically disappointed with the Ghanaian Government over the perennial quit notice and ill treatment meted on Nigerian traders who are by law bonafide community citizens of ECOWAS”.
“Nigerians who are doing their legitimate businesses in Ghana as guaranteed under the ECOWAS Treaty, which no longer sees a Nigerian or any other Member State citizen residing or doing business in Ghana as a ‘foreigner’ but a citizen of Ghana”.
The Association insisted there is the need for Ghana and Nigeria to partner for economic development, especially when such partnerships bring about mutual benefits, citing the existence of Nigerians banks in Ghana and Nigerian students in Ghana.
While the Association commended the government for momentarily suspending the order, it called on the Nigerian Government to rise up and deal with the matter once and for all.