Blows at Koforidua assembly premises — Over seizure of goods belonging to non Ghanaian retailers
The timely intervention by the Member of Parliament (MP) for the New Juaben South Constituency in the Eastern Region, Michael Okyere Baafi prevented a whole-scale fight between some non Ghanaian retail traders and members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).
The incident occurred at the premises of the New Juaben South Municipal Assembly, Koforidua on November 20.
That was after members of GUTA without the police went round a trading outpost in Koforidua to enforce the law preventing foreigners from engaging in retail trade in the township.
The GUTA members seized goods on display by non Ghanaian citizens which were sent to the premises of the Municipal Assembly for further action.
The petty traders numbering about 10 angrily followed up to the assembly to demand the release of their goods which GUTA members initially refused.
In the melee which led to exchange of blows, Mr Baafi who is also the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry intervened after which the goods were given back to the Nigerians petty traders.
Mr Baafi who was inspecting the asphalting of some of the streets of Koforidua township rushed to the scene after hearing about the disturbances.
The MP explicitly reminded foreigners especially Nigerian retail traders of the law which restrained them in that trade as such they should only engage in wholesale trading after acquiring the necessary permits.
He told them that the retail business was only for Ghanaians and not for foreigners.
The Eastern Regional Vice-Chairman of GUTA, Samuel Victor Aikins who was not happy about the violent attack by the Nigerian petty traders said GUTA was not sabotaging the business of foreigners but was only ensuring that the law banning them from the retail trade was enforced.
"We are not sabotaging their trading activities because the law explicitly states that no foreigner including Nigerians should be in the retail trade in Ghana", Mr Aikins stated.
He advised all foreigners to bring their goods into the country and sell to Ghanaians wholesale who would in turn retail them.
Mr Aikins said so far 38 retail shops belonging to foreigners some of which were owned by Nigerians had been closed until further notice.
He indicated that the exercise would continue until all such shops had been put out of action.
According to the GUTA Eastern Regional Vice-Chairman, it was regrettable for the Nigerians petty traders to storm the assembly's premises to fight GUTA members over the seizure of their goods, knowing very well that they should not be in the retail trade.
Mr Aikins however advised all foreigners’ especially Nigerian petty traders not to resort to violence under such circumstances because it would not be in their interest.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the leadership of the Nigerian petty traders in Koforidua to speak, the issue proved futile.