The Nima Police in Accra say officers dispatched to Tip-Toe Lane near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Interchange area on Monday acted professionally during the confrontation between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders.
Hundreds of shops owned by Nigerians were locked up in a move by the Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA) to clamp down on foreigners engaged in retail business against Ghanaian laws.
Police ended up arresting some six persons for allegedly pelting them with stones.
The Nima Divisional Police Commander, ACP Abraham Acquaye, told Citi News they only fired warning shots to disperse the crowd that had become rowdy.
“Stones were flying from all angles. There was an exchange of stones from both the Ghanaian and Nigerian counterpart who were just throwing stones and we were caught in the middle of the crossfire. Some of our people were hit. But nobody shot into the crowd. We are matured enough to know how to use our firearms.”
Police recently faced criticism for their use of force during a protest by law students in October.
The students who were on a peaceful demonstration en route to the Presidency with a petition for the reform of legal education in Ghana were met with water cannons and rubber bullets by the personnel from the Accra Regional Police Command.
Shops locked up
Over 600 shops belonging to foreign traders particularly Nigerians at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle were locked up by members of GUTA on Monday.
This is not the first time GUTA members had embarked on such an exercise in their quest to rid the Ghanaian market of foreign traders who are engaging in retail.
According to GUTA, the government has failed to enforce Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act, which bars foreigners from doing retail business.
Foreign traders’ shops locked after confusion at Opera Square
Ghanaian Traders at Opera Square in Accra in November 2019 embarked on an operation to lock-up shops owned by foreigners in the national capital.
Some of the traders accused the foreigners of hiring land guards to re-open the shops which were most recently locked up on November 4 after two previous incidents.
Others said the government was contributing to the discontent.
“This is what we are doing now because the government is not helping since no matter what we do, they will just tell us that the guys [foreigners traders] should keep on working.”
“We have our market and we say they shouldn’t retail. They should sell wholesale,” another trader said as he echoed section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act.
The Act says a person who is not a citizen or an enterprise that is not wholly-owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.
But the government has mostly opted for diplomacy in handling the tensions resulting from the non-enforcement of the law.
Local traders have not hidden their anger over the government’s lack of action which has escalated into instances of violence at Opera Square and other places like Suame Magazine in Kumasi.