Nigerian Traders Appeal to Ghana Government on GIPC Law. The Nigeria Union of Traders Association, Ghana, has appealed to the government of Ghana to intervene in the closure of shops belonging to their members.
The appeal became necessary as members of Ghana’s main traders’ union, GUTA, have repeatedly locked up shops belonging to foreigners in Kumasi and Accra quoting existing laws on retail trade in Ghana which bars foreigners from operating in that space.
Speaking on the recent happenings in an interview, the President of the Nigeria Union of Traders Association, Chief Chukwuemeka Nnaji, said Ghana’s trade laws must be reviewed. “We want the Ghanaian government to harmonize the GIPC Act 865, (Section 27 and 28), that bars foreigners from engaging in retail trade, with ECOWAS laws. Nigerians in particular are not foreigners as they are ECOWAS citizens. Government needs to do something about the law to give everyone involved some peace.”
Chief Nnaji further stated that he was glad that Nigerians in Nigeria have not carried out retaliation attacks. “Currently, the closure of shops by GUTA from time to time, is really a concern. The lack of reprisal attacks in Nigeria against Ghanaians in the past 20 years should be commended.”
GUTA still urges government to implement laws on retail trading. Though its ultimatum to the government for it to start enforcing the law has ended, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), says it is not too late for the government to do the right thing.
Speaking at an interview, the National Welfare Officer of GUTA, Mr. Benjamin Yeboah, said the Association is currently assessing the situation after the apparent silence from the government. “We never said in our deadline that we will act immediately… we will assess the situation and decide on the line of action.”
Mr. Yeboah however guaranteed that its response to the lack of action will be felt nationwide though he remained silent on the details. “Whether it will be a demonstration or closure of shops or whatever, we are keeping that under our sleeves.”
This notwithstanding, he added that the government still had the opportunity to start enforcing the laws. “It is never too late for those who are breaking the law or flouting it to start mending their ways and leaving the market. It is never too late for the institutions who are mandated by law to start working.”
The law, in section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act 865, states that any person who is not a citizen or an enterprise that 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.
But the government has not been enforcing the law, and instead rests towards diplomacy in handling the resulting tensions. Tensions have led to local traders locking up shops of foreign traders among other clashes. The most tensions have been at the Opera Square Market in Accra, where foreign traders’ shops have been locked up on multiple occasions. Other attempts to enforce the law sparked confusion at the Suame Magazine enclave in Kumasi leading to the shops of some Nigerian traders being looted with threats of further violence.