Deportation row between Nigeria and Ghana
Deportation of four Ghanaian citizens from Nigeria with no official reason two days ago may not have gone down well with Ghanaian authorities. On Friday, Kwame Takyi, comptroller-general of Ghana Immigration Service, visited his Nigerian counterpart, Mohammed Babandede on issues of deportation.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that no formal explanation was publicly rendered for the deportation, which was approved by Abdulrahman Dambazau, the interior minister.
Barely one month ago, Nigeria had protested mass deportation of at least 723 of its citizens between 2018 and February 2019. The Nigerians were accused of illegal stay, cybercrime, prostitution and other social vices.
Eighty-one Nigerians were deported on alleged cybercrime and illegal stay in January, while 115 have so far been deported in February on the allegation of overstay and prostitution, NAN reported, adding that Nigerian ambassador to Ghana, Michael Abikoye, strongly protested the action to the Ghanaian government in Accra.
Nigeria’s objection to the removal of its citizens from Ghana and failure to publicly state the offences of the four deported Ghanaians had fueled speculation that the March 22 decision might have been done in retaliation.
Although no official statement was issued after the meeting between Ghanaian and Nigerian Immigration authorities, unofficial sources said the officials disagreed over deportation procedures of citizens of both countries.
Some thirty-six years after Nigeria asked foreigners, including Ghanaians, to leave the country, that was in 1983, the table has turned and Ghana is deporting Nigerians in droves.
There is a Ghana Must Go Bag pictured above: Trademark bag used in Nigeria to remember the 1983 order by Nigerian government that Ghanaians must go back to their country
The Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, Michael Abikoye, on Tuesday protested the deportation, calling it inhuman treatment of Nigerians by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported Abikoye to have said this at a meeting between him and the Comptroller-General of GIS, Kwame Takyi, in Ghana, with report obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The High Commissioner said 723 Nigerians were deported on alleged illegal stay, cybercrime and prostitution between the January 2018 and January 2019.
According to him, 81 Nigerians are deported on alleged cybercrime and illegal stay in January, while 115 have so far been deported in February on the allegation of overstay and prostitution.
The High commissioner cautioned against inhuman treatment of Nigerians by Ghana, warning that any form of torture or ill treatment of Nigerians would not be acceptable to Nigerian Government.
He said, though the High Commission would not condone any form of criminality on the part of Nigerians, saying inhuman treatment and alleged torture of some Nigerians in Ghana would no longer be tolerated.
“Although, the GIS had linked prostitution and cybercrimes as some of the reasons for the deportation, it is improper to deport Nigerians for alleged illegal stay in Ghana.
“There are several Ghanaians living in Nigeria and the Nigeria Immigration Service has never deported any of them on ground of illegal stay, because of a sense of brotherliness between our countries,” he said
The Ambassador, therefore, presented to the CG a copy of the Mission’s records on deportations of Nigerians from January 2018 till date.
He expressed displeasure that Nigerians were not being fairly treated, stressing that there had been reported cases of molestation, harassment and torture of Nigerians by GIS officials, especially those awaiting deportation at the GIS’s detention facility.
The Ambassador also showed photos of some of them who sustained injuries on their legs, arms and eyes in the process of the torture.
According to him, the inhuman act was against the United Nations Convention against Torture.
He appealed to the CG to prevail on his officials to treat Nigerians and other ECOWAS nationals with human face, caution and not as common criminals.
Abikoye expressed displeasure on the long detention of Nigerians in the GIS custody after proper documentation and issuance of Emergency Travel Certificate for their repatriation by the High Commission.
He appealed that considering the poor state of the GIS’s facility; the Ghana Immigration Service should expedite action in their early repatriation to Nigeria immediately after the issuance of Emergency Travel Certificates.
In his response, the CG acknowledged the existing bilateral relationship between the two countries as earlier pointed by Abikoye.
According to Mr Takyi, the GIS are being compelled to carry out repatriation because of the conduct of some Nigerian nationals in Ghana.
He alleged that besides engaging in cybercrime and prostitution, “some Nigerians had become laws in themselves; they do road blockages in major Ghanaian streets where they drink, fight and stab one another.
“This unruly behaviour” which contravenes the local laws in Ghana has led to directive from higher authority for their arrests and eventual deportation of those who do not have the requisite immigration papers.”
The CG, however, promised to investigate alleged torture of some Nigerians.
He, however, showed the Ambassador a video of some Nigerians, obstructing justice by preventing the official vehicle of the GIS the right of way after arresting a Nigerian in Kasoa area.