These are obviously not the beginning of heightened tensions between both countries. A peep into history suggests that mass deportation of Ghanaians during the Late President Sheu Shagari years in office marked the beginning of labelling foreigners, mostly from Ghana as the cause of woes in the early 80s. The Shagari government had targeted citizens of the West African country as scapegoats for its economic misfortunes, hence, the popular phrase, "Ghana must go" to depict a large baggage for carrying goods back to their country.
In a new twist, fast forward to 2018/2019, Ghanaian authorities are cracking down on Nigerians living in the country and according to Nigeria's high commissioner to Ghana, Ambassador Michael Abikoye, 723 Nigerians have sofar been deported from Ghana between 2018 and 2019.
Giving figures on the deportations, 81 Nigerians were deported on alleged cybercrime and illegal stay in January, while 115 have so far been deported in February based on allegations of overstay and prostitution.
There's more to the crime centered explanation given by Ghana Immigration Service. Across the world, when migrants begin to flourish in another country, making waves in the areas of economy that natives are unable to achieve, there's the tendency to blackmail them, create a glass ceiling or make policies of that deterrs them from prosperity. Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa and many other countries in the continent are guilty of this. Israel suffered deeply from this scapegoating in the hands of Hitler and other anti-Semitic ideologies and governments.
Meanwhile, the High commissioner cautioned against inhuman treatment of Nigerians by Ghana, warning that any form of torture or ill treatment of Nigerians would not be acceptable to Nigerian government. He said, though the High Commission would not condone any form of criminality on the part of Nigerians, inhuman treatment and alleged torture of some Nigerians in Ghana would no longer be tolerated. “Although, the GIS had linked prostitution and cybercrimes as some of the reasons for the deportation, it is improper to deport Nigerians for alleged illegal stay in Ghana. “There are several Ghanaians living in Nigeria and the Nigeria Immigration Service has never deported any of them on ground of illegal stay, because of a sense of brotherliness between our countries,” he said.
The Ambassador, therefore, presented to the CG a copy of the Mission’s records on deportations of Nigerians from January 2018 till date. He expressed displeasure that Nigerians were not being fairly treated, stressing that there had been reported cases of molestation, harassment and torture of Nigerians by GIS officials, especially those awaiting deportation at the GIS’s detention facility.
The Ambassador also showed photos of some of them who sustained injuries on their legs, arms and eyes in the process of the torture. According to him, the inhuman act was against the United Nations Convention against Torture. He appealed to the CG to prevail on his officials to treat Nigerians and other ECOWAS nationals with human face, caution and not as common criminals. Abikoye expressed displeasure on the long detention of Nigerians in the GIS custody after proper documentation and issuance of Emergency Travel Certificate for their repatriation by the High Commission.
He appealed that considering the poor state of the GIS’s facility; the Ghana Immigration Service should expedite action in their early repatriation to Nigeria immediately after the issuance of Emergency Travel Certificates. In his response, the CG acknowledged the existing bilateral relationship between the two countries as earlier pointed by Abikoye. According to Takyi, the GIS are being compelled to carry out repatriation because of the conduct of some Nigerian nationals in Ghana.
He alleged that besides engaging in cybercrime and prostitution, “some Nigerians had become laws in themselves; they do road blockages in major Ghanaian streets where they drink, fight and stab one another. “This unruly behaviour” which contravenes the local laws in Ghana has led to directive from higher authority for their arrests and eventual deportation of those who do not have the requisite immigration papers.” The CG, however, promised to investigate alleged torture of some Nigerians.
Deportation, if for the purpose of security must be done in good faith and without torture. Some Nigerian businesses were also shut last year for weeks.
The CG however, showed the Ambassador a video of some Nigerians, obstructing justice by preventing the official vehicle of the GIS the right of way after arresting a Nigerian in Kasoa area. The report said that the incessant deportation of Nigerians and alleged inhuman treatment of some of them, had once again brought to fore, the urgent need for Nigerian Government to hasten on earlier proposal to fix a date for hosting of the Ghana and Nigeria Permanent Joint Commission meeting.
With many notable companies closing down in Nigeria and moving to Ghana, the jobs are ultimately moving out of Lagos due to power issues. The dwindling fortunes of Nigeria's economy also make it harder for families these days, even as insecurity rages across the land. Ghana to the rescue? Or is it going to be a pay back time where "Nigeria must go' becomes a slogan? African countries must take heed of retributive policies, lest we shoot ourselves in the foot. Any heightened tensions in the continent is an opportunity for the foxes to pounce on.
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