It is incumbent upon Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Ms. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, to thoroughly investigate the cases of the four Ghanaian nationals who have reportedly been deported from Nigeria for alleged forgery or “falsification of Nigerian identities,” as the brief news report characterized it (See “Government Confirms Deportation of Ghanaians from Nigeria” DailyGuideNetwork.com / Ghanaweb.com 6/1/19).
The Ghana Government should not just take the word of the Abuja Government at face value by letting matters end there, especially coming at a time when Ghana has also had to deal with a critical mass of Nigerians living within our territorial boundaries, quite a remarkable number of who are known and/or suspected to be involved in various acts of criminality, including the kidnapping of schoolgirls a la Boko Haram methodology, and the fatal targeting of our law-enforcement agents and members of the general population.
Indeed, it boggles my mind why any Ghanaian citizen, irrespective of station in life or socioeconomic status, would decide to take the risk of forging documents claiming a Nigerian identity or nationality. It is an established fact that West Africa’s most populous nation also has the highest crime rate of insufferable proportions by Ghanaian standards. But, of course, that is not the primary issue at stake in this discursive context. What is clearly at stake here is to ensure that any Ghanaian nationals or bona fide citizens who travel to Nigeria or any other ECOWAS-member country is treated with the same high level of respect, dignity, and cordiality afforded non-Ghanaian residents of Ghana from the ECOWAS Zone or Region. Lamely admonishing Ghanaian nationals who decide to immigrate to Nigeria to ensure that they possess the requisite documentation, in order to avoid being mistreated or deported from West Africa’s largest country, is well beside the point.
Instead, the Government needs to ascertain the fact of whether, indeed, all the four persons allegedly deported from Nigeria are actually bona fide Ghanaian citizens with established roots in our country, either by birth or naturalization; and also precisely under what specific set of circumstances the four were deported from Nigeria. The unspoken signal here, of course, is to reciprocally ensure that our immigration authorities raise the level of vigilance by strictly monitoring the activities of non-Ghanaian nationals resident in our country, as a salutary means of ensuring that acts of criminality similar but not limited to those for which the four Ghanaian deportees were allegedly found to have breached or criminally violated are promptly stanched or drastically reduced to the barest minimum.
Then, also, the Government needs to show the same level of urgency and value for our nationals in other countries who are purported to have run afoul of the immigration laws and standards of their host or former host countries. As well, the Ghana Government needs to ensure that any personal effects or belongings and properties legitimately owned or acquired by these deportees are wholly and fully recovered and repatriated with them.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York