Leadership of Parliament‘s Committee on Foreign Affairs is urging extreme caution in pronouncements about Nigerians in Ghana in order not to trigger the most unwelcome reactions.
According to the leadership, crimes of individual Nigerians should not be used as yardstick to categorise the entire Nigerian community in Ghana.
This labeling, they warned, could trigger xenophobic attacks directed at Nigerians, which could escalate and severely affect the good and brotherly relationship between the two states.
Chairman of the Committee, Frank Annoh-Dompreh, and the Ranking member, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, addressed the media in Parliament and called for circumspection.
This follows recent labeling of Nigerians in Ghana by section of the media as criminals and other undignified attributions as well as the ongoing dispute between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders in the well-known vehicle spare parts enclave of Suame Magazine in Kumasi.
Ghanaians and Nigerians, they argued, know the result of this type of persecution because they lived it in South Africa when they became prime targets during the xenophobic attacks.
“West Africans were at the receiving end, especially Ghanaians and Nigerians. So we have lived it and we know what it means when these things get out of hand and what it does to us.”
Mr. Annoh-Dompreh noted that looking back to the 60s, 70s and the 80s and how relationship between the two states degenerated and caused mass exodus from the two countries, there is every reason to tread cautiously.
He expressed displeasure at pronouncements in the media, both mass and social, and appealed to Ghanaians especially the youth and the media to be measured in their assertions.
He said, “Let’s not proceed to prejudge arrests and cases involving Nigerians in the media because crime should be treated as crime.”
“The police know how to do their work and besides we do not want to stir bad relationship between the two states.”
The Committee, he said, will engage the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana to find the best way of addressing the development.
He urged Ghanaians not to tarnish and muddy the dignity of the two countries but to exercise restraints and patience as the police continue with their investigations.
Ranking member of the Committee, Okudzeto Ablakwa averred that the matter is sensitive hence the need to put the long standing historic and ancestral relations of the two countries first.
According to him, there are so many things that bind Ghanaians and Nigerians together, which should not be jeopardized.
“When our committee visited Nigeria we were informed there are about two million Ghanaians in Nigeria and about seven million Nigerians in Ghana.”
“These are huge numbers we cannot downplay and we should also be guided by history of what happened in 1969 and 1983 when Nigerians and Ghanaians were deported from these countries vice-versa.”
“We should not engage in tendencies or provocations that will lead to an escalation of the situation,” he cautioned.