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The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Michael Olufemi Abikoye, was reckless with his statement which accused the Ghanaian media of whipping up xenophobic sentiments against Nigerians living in Ghana, Mr Murtala Mohammed, a former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry has said.
The former MP for Nandom described the comments as undiplomatic.
“I was particularly disappointed in the current Nigerian High Commissioner. I think he appeared diplomatically undiplomatic and for a High Commissioner to make such a statement, which can better be described as very reckless, for me, was most unfortunate,” he said on the Ghana Yensom show on Accra100.5FM on Tuesday, 25 June 2019.
In his statement, Mr Abikoye questioned the style of reporting by the Ghanaian media regarding the involvement of some Nigerians in kidnapping cases in Ghana.
He said linking Nigerians to the kidnappings has caused pain to Nigerians living in and out of Ghana.
Nigerian nationals have been linked to six major kidnapping cases in Ghana since August last year.
Mr Samuel-Udoetuk Willis, a Nigerian who is currently in police custody, is the main suspect in the kidnapping of three girls in Takoradi in the Western Region. A second Nigerian suspect, John Oji is also on trial for the same crime.
Three Nigerians and five Ghanaians were also involved in the kidnapping of two Canadians who were rescued last week in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
Three Nigerians are also on the run in connection with the kidnapping of a Lebanese diplomat Nabil Makram Basbous, the Consular-General and Head of Mission of Estonia to Ghana at Labone in April this year.
Some Nigerians were also arrested at Kasoa in the Central Region in connection with the kidnapping and killing of a two-year-old Ghanaian boy in that area also in April.
Additionally, some Nigerian nationals are suspected to be behind the kidnapping of an Indian businessman in Kumasi in April this year.
On Sunday, 16 June 2019, another Nigerian suspect was arrested at Mamobi in Accra for trying to kidnap a four-year-old Ghanaian boy.
Some Ghanaians on various social media platforms have expressed anger at the current trend of kidnappings involving Nigerian suspects.
But in a statement, the Nigerian High Commissioner said: “The Ghanaian press, both print and electronic, as well as social media seem to have enjoyed a field day in demonising Nigeria, which, for all intents and purposes, is seen as a fraternal brother to Ghana”.
This line of reportage “has caused untold pain, agony as well as apprehension” to Nigerians in Ghana.
He said, “This has compelled it to appeal to local traditional media and social media to be highly circumspect in such reportage.”
“The ongoing media trial of criminals which was now being turned into a media trial of Nigeria as a country, calls for moderation on the part of media practitioners in Ghana.”
”Suffice to say that at times like this, a situation where five (5) Ghanaians in the company of three (3) Nigerians allegedly kidnapped two (2) Canadians but seems to enjoy wider press coverage as a crime committed by the Nigerians and considers Ghanaians only as accomplices leaves much to be desired on the objectivity of such report.
“Moreover, such media trials could be seen as prejudicial to the outcome of the ongoing prosecution in court which sees them as innocent until proven guilty. On this note, the Nigeria High Commission wishes to reiterate its stand that whoever commits a crime and is found guilty must face the consequences of his/her action. For its part, the High Commission will continue to mobilise all Nigerians living in Ghana to obey the domestic laws. The High Commission is also in touch with all relevant host authorities with a view to amicably resolve the issue,” the statement added.
It further said: “This has become highly imperative in view of its larger implications on Nigerians living in Ghana and Ghanaians living in Nigeria as well. Moreover, the excellent relations that subsist between Nigeria and Ghana as maternal brotherly countries under His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and his brother, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo can never be allowed to be jeopardised by xenophobic tendencies over such intents”.
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