The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Olufemi Michael Abikoye has said that his country is working closely with Ghanaian officials to deal with the several truckloads of goods that have been grounded at the Seme border between Benin and Nigeria due to a temporary shutdown of Nigeria’s borders.
Nigeria partially closed its borders with Benin in August this year to curb the spate of rice smuggling which Africa’s most populous country said is threatening its attempt to boost local production.
The move also aims at stopping the movement of illicit weapons through various entry points.
The closure has affected the movement of goods and services from the West Africa sub-region into Nigeria through that section of the country’s border, a situation the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) said is causing its members to incur huge losses.
This prompted Ghanaian government officials to meet their Nigerian counterparts in Abuja to work out modalities toward resolving the situation.
Mr Abikoye, who was speaking at a sensitisation programme organised by the Nigeria Union of Traders Ghana (NUTAG) and Nigerian Youth Association (NYA) in collaboration with the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council and Security Agencies in Kumasi, said: “This issue will be solved”.
He explained that: “The [Nigerian] government has set up a team for security, for trade, to be able to look at the situation in terms of a lot of trucks that belong to Ghanaians at Seme border. That is the only country [Ghana] that the government has agreed to have a window [for] to look at the situation and solve the problem between Nigerian and Ghana”.
He said about 85 per cent of rice consumed in Nigeria was produced by local farmers but some people ended up smuggling all kinds of foreign rice into the country.
Mr Abikoye indicated that besides rice, people are also smuggling petroleum products, arms, ammunition, and other agriculture products.
The Nigerian government, he said, needed to put temporary measures in place so that security could be tightened at its borders.
The Ambassador also expressed his displeasure at how Nigerians are tagged as criminals in Ghana and urged the Ghanaian media and security agencies to treat criminals as such and desist from attaching nationalities to suspects.
For him, it is “not fair” for all Nigerians to be labeled as such, adding that individuals found guilty of criminal acts should be made to face the laws of Ghana without fear or favor.
For his part, Chief Kizito Ikechukwu, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of NUTAG urged Ghanaian and Nigerian traders to work together.