The aforementioned provisions state clearly that non-citizens (foreigners) should not engage in activities such as sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.The NUTAG says members of GUTA have since 2007 used these provisions to blackmail their members resulting in many of them living in fear.
At a press conference in Accra, the President of NUTAG, Chief Chukwuemeka Nnaji, said the association was at a loss as to why members of GUTA would attack and threaten them when Ghanaians enjoyed the freedom to live and work in Nigeria.
"If you go to Nigeria today, you will find thousands of Ghanaians and other ECOWAS citizens doing business ranging from barbering, taxi driving petty-trading, hawking and so on without restriction.
“They are not harassed by the National Association of Nigeria Traders (NANTS) and they are not threatened, so why would GUTA want to harass us in the manner they are doing?
“GUTA always refers to the laws of Ghana so we will want to plead with the Government of Ghana to intervene and reconsider this law so that we can work in peace,” Chief Nnaji said.
He said NUTAG was of the view that the government of Ghana through the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration had disapproved the directive not to allow ECOWAS citizens to trade in Ghanaian markets, and yet GUTA was still pursuing them using the same GIPC provisions.
“The new ECOWAS treaty that recognises the ECOWAS card also allows citizens of the sub-region to live and work in any ECOWAS member country without any trouble, so why is GUTA not respecting this but keeps harassing and threatening us?,” he asked.
Enough is enough
Chief Nnaji said NUTAG considered GUTA’s actions as unlawful, adding that members of NUTAG had restrained themselves from reacting since they wanted to remain law abiding.
He also regretted that members of NUTAG had very little protection from the law enforcement agencies, a situation they considered worrying and a threat to their lives.
"Recently some members of GUTA went round and forcibly locked our shops in Kumasi and some areas in Accra, particularly the Opera Square, and this is unlawful.
“In fact some GUTA members have gone as far as threaten to physically attack us if we attempt to reopen the shops they have locked up.
"it must be put on record that if anything happens to any of member of NUTAG by way of GUTA's unnecessary harassment and intimidation, the leadership of GUTA will be held responsible, " Chief Nnaji stressed.
NUTAG urged GUTA not to do anything that would strain the cordial relationship between Nigeria and Ghana since Nigerians might also retaliate against Ghanaian traders in Nigeria if they felt their compatriots were being unfairly treated in Ghana.
Furthermore, he said, what was happening could hurt many Ghanaians who were in the employment of Nigerian businesses in Ghana that were being threatened.
“We will urge GUTA to reconsider their actions as they are not doing Ghana any good by their constant hostilities towards members of NUTAG.
Ghana and Nigeria have an age-long relationship and we should not do anything untowards through our actions and inactions to bring about tension between the two states.
“We are not living in Ghana illegally neither have we done anything untoward to disturb their businesses and so we urge GUTA to discontinue their actions so that we all can live and work in peace and harmony,” Chief Nnaji said.