Ghana, Nigeria should sign reciprocity pact to deal with traders ‘war’ – Bentil

The Vice President of IMANI Africa has urged the political leaders of Ghana and Nigeria to sign a pact to curb the attacks on Nigerian retail traders in Ghana.

Kofi Bentil, while speaking on the recent closure of Nigerian shops in Kumasi by local traders, said; it’s time the two leaders find a lasting solution to the age-old menace of “xenophobic” attacks.

The immediate stopgap measure is a bilateral treaty, he told host Evans Mensah on Joy FM/MultiTV’s news analysis show, Newsfile, Saturday.

The terms of this pact should say that “Ghanaians would be allowed to engage in every economic activity in Nigeria that Nigerians are allowed to do in Ghana,” Mr Bentil who is also a legal practitioner said.

Retail traders in the Ashanti Regional capital and even in Accra have accused foreigners, Nigerians especially, of engaging in retail trade, contrary to Section 27 of GIPC Act 865.

The law prohibits non-Ghanaians from engaging in retail trade in the jurisdiction.

Subsequent governments have, however, found it difficult to implement the law, causing the traders to go rogue on a seasonal basis.

Many, including foreign nationals, have argued the law is contrary to the ECOWAS provision of free movement of goods and persons across the sub-region.

But Mr Bentil said if there is a contradiction between local laws and international conventions, the local law takes precedence.

He said, however, that the disagreement between these two laws must be rectified because “it is in our interest to open up.”

Although Bentil sympathises with the local traders, he wants them to become more competitive.

The Ghanaian trader should “sit up, rise up and compete,” he stated.

Veteran journalist, Kweku Baako who was also on the show supported Mr Bentil’s argument; saying a practical approach must be used to solve the matter.

He added that if the traders feel the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Law is not being enforced by government, they should go to court and enforce it.

“We cannot commend them for the lawless enforcing of the law, he noted.