Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana Ambassador Olufemi Michael Abikoye
BY MUSAH YAHAYA JAFARU
ACCRA (GRAPHIC) -- The Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament is to invite the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana for a discussion on the recent alleged crimes committed by Nigerians.
There have been reported cases of Nigerians engaged in criminal cases, including armed robbery and kidnappings in Ghana recently.
However, the High Commissioner,Ambassador Olufemi Michael Abikoye, had expressed reservation about the manner the Ghanaian media had reported the incidents.
Speaking at a joint press conference in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, and the Ranking Member on the Committee, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said there was so much that binds the two countries which should not be jeopardised.
It was in that respect that the MPs indicated that the High Commissioner would be invited on the matter to help resolve any misconceptions.
The MPs urged Ghanaians not to tag all Nigerians as criminals or attack them because of the recent alleged cases of crime involving Nigerians.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh said the recent developments about the generalisation of Nigerians as criminals had the tendency to destroy the bilateral relations and repeat the deportation cases experienced in the 1970s and 1980s.
He said there were close to two million Ghanaians living in Nigeria and sending remittances to their families back in Ghana.
Equally, he said, there were several Nigerians also working in Ghana.
Therefore, Mr Annoh-Dompreh said "if somebody commits a crime, let us deal with the fellow. But if we begin to tag the people with their countries, it is not good," he said.
Mr Annoh-Dompreh, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, said the Nigerians helped Ghanaians in many ways and vice versa, and stressed that: "If we do not take caution and confusion erupts, the two countries will suffer."
He said crime did not have any nationality colours, and, therefore, cautioned the public to refrain from the generalisation of crime.
For his part, Mr Ablakwa, who is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for North Tongu, said the committee was getting increasingly concerned about the tone, the reportage and what was going on in the social media in connection with recent alleged crimes by some Nigerians.
"This is what leads to triggers that cause what we all do not want to see.
We do not want Ghana-Nigeria relations to be jeopardised. We do not want the start of any xenophobic attacks, no matter where it will start from, whether from Ghana or from Nigeria.
"There are about two million Ghanaians in Nigeria. There are about seven million Nigerians in Ghana.
These are huge numbers, you cannot downplay these numbers.
"We should also be guided by history. We know what happened in 1969, and what happened in 1993 under President Shehu Shagari when about one million Ghanaians living in Nigeria were deported, .
"We do not want to degenerate into that, we should be guided by our history.
It is not about who is more superior or who will tell it to another.
We should not engage in any provocation that will lead to an escalation. Then we all suffer", he said.
High Commissioner not happy
The High Commission, in a statement issued in Accra yesterday, expressed worry over what it called the general criminalisation of Nigerians in Ghana due to actions of “ an insignificant few” Nigerians.
The statement said since the last press release by the commission on April 16, 2019, on maltreatment of Nigerian nationals deported from Ghana to Nigeria, its attention had been drawn to the daily negative media reportage on Nigerians in Ghana, describing them as a bunch of criminals.
it said the Ghanaian Press seemed to have enjoyed a field day in demonising Nigeria, which for all intent and purposes, was seen as a fraternal brother to Ghana.
It mentioned the law-abiding Nigerians in Ghana to include “astute businessmen, bankers, insurance brokers, teeming students as well as investors that were daily trooping to Ghana.”
“The High Commission does not and will never condone some misguided youth that have taken to criminality as a way of life regardless of nationality, creed or colour.
Nigerians or Ghanaians alike stand to be condemned in its totality and punished according to the municipal laws of the land if found guilty,” it said.
The statement described as terribly worrisome the use of the actions of what it termed as an insignificant few elements from Nigeria to criminalise and to unfairly or unreasonably canonise a brotherly country such as Nigeria as a country of criminals who had come to disturb the peace in Ghana.
It further observed as an unfortunate, a situation where five Ghanaians in the company of three Nigerians who allegedly kidnapped two Canadians in Kumasi, were referned to by most media as accomplices with the Nigerians being said to be the perpetrators.
SOURCE: GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS