A prominent civil Rights Advocacy group – Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene so as to forestall possible xenophobic violence targeting Nigerians in Ghana following a string of cases of kidnappings and organized crimes in which some Nigerians were implicated.
The Rights group said her attention was called to the developments in Ghana by some good spirited Nigerians and Ghanaians from Ghana who expressed worry that there could be imminent xenophobic attacks against Nigerians going by the extent of one-sided stereotyping by the media and top level political office holders in Ghana which graphically depict Nigerians as criminals and kidnappers.
HURIWA said it has it on record that even the current President of Ghana has participated in spreading hate messages against Nigerians by spreading the misperception that Nigerians are kidnappers.
HURIWA reminded the Nigerian government that the extensive xenophobic violence in South Africa targeting non-South African black Africans by black South Africans in which over three dozen Nigerians have died started just like small rumors and then promoted in the South African black media in which foreigners who are blacks are classified as drug dealers and criminals.
It also stated that when the early warnings came from South Africa about possible xenophobic attacks in which Nigerians were the principal targets, the Nigerian government overlooked these grave warnings but waited until dozens of Nigerians are butchered on the streets of South Africa before the Nigerian government made some kind of statements but has not adopted any measures to stop it.
The Rights group said even as it speaks Nigerians in South Africa lives at their own risks due to the expanding frontiers of xenophobic violence against black foreigners living in South Africa even as the South African Police and government have failed to curb the menace.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA tasked the president to personally intervene to forestall the occurrence of such xenophobia and targeted violence against Nigerians because even the political and media establishments of Ghana have begun systematic stereotyping of Nigerians as kidnappers and dangerous criminals just as the Rights group said the consequences of these daily and consistent doses of stereotyping of Nigerians as criminals is that ordinary Ghanaians may embrace mob justice and go after thousands of other Nigerians living and doing legitimate businesses in Ghana.
“This is a save our souls appeal to the Nigerian president to act decisively and immediately without any further delay to hold bilateral dialogues with the political authorities in Ghana to ask them to use legal and right based means to stop the local media of Ghana from spreading hate messages and xenophobia against members of the Nigerian community in Ghana because crimes and criminality have no national boundaries nor are crimes committed exclusively by certain nationalities to the exclusion of their hosts if such nationalities reside outside their native domains.”
HURIWA stated that government must bear in mind that it was not long that a dispute between the Ghana government and Nigerian business practitioners over exorbitant amount of investments demanded from Nigerians was settled. “This warning sign has become very urgent and the Nigerian government and ECOWAS must do all within their powers to stop any land of xenophic attack from ever happening.
HURIWA recalled that few days back the media of Ghana were awash with series of crime stories in which Nigerians were listed as masterminds just as specifically, only yesterday, a Nigerian was listed as suspected to be the leader of the gang that abducted two Canadian women earlier in June.
HURIWA recalled that already three Nigerians have been arrested by Ghanaian authorities in connection to the recent abduction of two Canadian women. Lauren Tilley and 20-year-old Bailey Chitty were abducted in Kumasi while returning to their hostel from a youth development programme on June 4, 2019, Ghana media reports.
HURIWA recalled that however, both women regained their freedom on Wednesday, June 12 after a rescue operation launched by security operatives, according to Ghana’s Information Minister, Kojo Nkrumah.
While speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, Nkrumah said authorities arrested five Ghanaians and three Nigerians during the rescue operation.
Two of the Nigerians were responsible for holding the abducted women in a Kumasi suburb where they were rescued, while the other is believed to be the leader of the gang.
Nkrumah said, “At 1900 hours, a first arrest was made, by 21:15 hours, one of the persons who is an accomplice directly involved in this incident was also arrested by the joint team running this operation”.
“A local Ghanaian contact who was providing harboring for the kidnappers was apprehended around 20:45 hours leading to the arrest of the other accomplices”.
“The holding place of the victims was subsequently surrounded just before 5 am this morning and by 5:15 am; a joint team had breached the premises with the hopes of rescuing the girls”.
Two young Canadian women freed from their kidnap ordeal by Ghanaian security forces were unharmed, the government said Wednesday, after the development volunteers were snatched at a golf club in the city of Kumasi last week.
Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said five Ghanaians and three Nigerians are being held in connection with the kidnapping, a relatively rare incident of violence targeting foreigners in a country seen as a bulwark of stability.
The women, aged 19 and 20, have been flown to the capital Accra.
“Preliminary investigations show they are fine and are receiving the necessary attention,” Oppong Nkrumah told reporters, adding that the operation began overnight Tuesday and lasted less than half an hour, HURIWA recalled.
The Rights group said a Local media in Ghana quoted President Nana Akufo-Addo this year as warning that action must be taken to ensure that kidnapping “doesn’t become a feature of our society”.
The President of Ghana then ranted as follows: “Our brothers and sisters in Nigeria have known it.
“But we have not known it in this country, and we need to do something about it, to make sure that it doesn’t become a feature of our society.”
HURIWA said these are clear signs that Nigerians are being demonized for the criminality of only a few Nigerians in Ghana.