September 4, 2020
Ghana to Consider Resolutions From Legislative Diplomacy in Resolving Trade Dispute – Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo tells Gbajabiamila
…as Nigeria’s Speaker makes case for the amendment of Ghana’s GIPC Act
The President of Ghana, Prof. Nana Akufo Ado has assured the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila of the readiness of the Ghanaian government to consider the resolutions reached at the ‘Legislative Diplomacy Bilateral Meeting’ between Nigeria and Ghana’s senior legislators on 2nd September 2020, at the Ghanaian Parliament House.
The Ghanian President gave the assurance when the Speaker of Ghana’s parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, upon completion of the 2-day extensive dialogue, led his Nigerian counterpart on a courtesy visit to the President at the Jubilee House, Accra, Ghana on Thursday.
The legislative diplomacy dialogue became imperative as the parliaments of the two countries sought modalities to resolve challenges and provide an enabling business environment for foreign traders including Nigerians doing business in Ghana. Several foreign businesses, many Nigerian-owned, in Ghana have been facing challenges in the demand for $1m capital base for foreign traders, as enshrined in the Ghana Investment Promotion Center GIPC Act (2013)
Responding to a request by Nigeria’s Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila for a review of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act to make certain concessions, President Akufo-Addo said the request was in order as it “makes a lot of sense”
The Ghanaian President, who expressed satisfaction with Gbajabiamila’s visit, endorsed his proposal for the establishment of a ‘Nigeria-Ghana Business Council’ established by law in both countries, and he additionally suggested the setting up of a joint ministerial committee between the two countries that will “shepherd” issues between Ghana and Nigeria.
He told Gbajabiamila he would also raise the issue with President Muhammadu Buhari when they meet at the ECOWAS Summit on Monday.
“I think the way forward, which is really what matters in situations like this, that is being suggested, one that I find very acceptable, the idea of legislation, a Nigeria Ghana business council that will superintendent trade matters and investment matters between our two countries, maybe long overdue.”
“The time has come for us to take these worthwhile steps. I suggested to Mr. President that it will be a good idea to set up a joint ministerial committee of ministers from both sides who will be responsible for shepherding Ghana and Nigeria issues, reporting to both presidents at any one time, and that is how they should be resolved.”
“I am hoping when I see him on Monday for the ECOWAS summit, we can advance these discussions and come to a final conclusion.
“The way you yourselves have come about this matter is very satisfactory, and it requires our support. The review that you are asking for, why not? if it works in our mutual perspectives, we can take it for granted that your request will be taken seriously. We will have a look at it.”
“So, the request for the review makes a lot of sense,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Earlier, Gbajabiamila, who was in the company of some of his colleagues in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, which included the Chairmen of House Committees on Foreign Affairs, Media and Public Affairs , Deputy chairmen of committee on Diaspora , Federal road safety and a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, , told the Ghanaian President at the Jubilee House, that they were in Ghana to make efforts through parliamentary diplomacy to resolve the issues at stake”
“We have appealed to the (Ghanaian) Parliament that if it’s possible at all to look again at the issues, as far as the Ghana Investment Promotion Center Act is concerned, they should please do so.”
“If it is not possible, then let us look at ways the pain can be reduced, like those expectations required in the law.”
“We’ve proffered a few suggestions one of which is the establishment of Ghana Nigeria Business Council backed by legislation on both sides,” Gbajabiamila said.
Meanwhile, in a communique issued jointly at the end of the bilateral meeting between members of the two Parliaments led by their respective Speakers, Gbajabiamila and Prof. Mike Oquaye, it was resolved that “measures will be adopted to support law-abiding traders to properly regularise their business operations to alleviate the trade challenges occasioned by the alleged closure of the retail stores, in view of the ravaging impact of Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and families in both countries.”
They acknowledged that many stakeholders in the retail sector have limited appreciation of the trade laws of Ghana, in particular, Section 28 of the GIPC Act, which provides for the conditions under which non-Ghanaians can engage in trading activities and urged the relevant regulatory authorities including the GIPC and Trade Attaches of foreign missions to educate their citizens on the trade laws.
They equally emphasized the need to respect the sovereignty of Member States of ECOWAS and their laws but, in doing so, efforts must be made to ensure that the ECOWAS Agenda for free movement of people and goods in furtherance of a shared and prosperous future of citizens of the sub-region is not compromised.
“A meeting will be held between the Trade and Foreign Affairs Committees of both Legislatures to deliberate on applications of Trade Laws, in particular, the GIPC Act, 2013 (Act 865) and make recommendations for appropriate solutions; and
“A Joint Committee will be established composed of Members of both Legislatures to explore the possible passage of reciprocal legislation, which could be potentially called the “Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act” which shall propose “Ghana-Nigeria Business Council” to provide a framework to sustain the friendship and benefits to citizens of the two nations.”
On departure from Ghana yesterday, Gbajabiamila expressed his gratitude to his counterpart for his statesmanship, leadership and hospitality, which made it possible for both countries to resolve thorny issues through legislative diplomacy.
REP. BENJAMIN O. KALU
House of Representatives
APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED
APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED
• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday
By Richard Partington
The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.
The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.
Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.
The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.
Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.
Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.
The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.
The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.
It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT
UNITES ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT
BY SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK
The United Arab Emirates has agreed to resume visa issuance to Nigerians, the government has said.
Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, announced this via his Twitter handle on Wednesday.
He disclosed that the move was to allow Emirates Airlines resume operations in Nigeria
He said, “UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.
“Commencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation. Many thanks.”
UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN
UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN
Mr Danu had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it with customs.
The United Kingdom has returned the sum of $100,000 confiscated by airport security from Nigerian businessman, Nasiru Danu, after a court gave judgment in his favour in a confiscation suit.
Court documents and banking details seen by this newspaper showed that the money was paid with interest that accrued in the last one year as ordered by a magistrate court on September 7.
Mr Danu was intercepted by officials of the United Kingdom Border Force and Immigration officials on arrival at the London airport on September 13, 2019 after his then newly-acquired Maltese passport with which he travelled there turned out to be fake.
The businessman, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, was duped of $35,000 by a ‘travel agency’ which offered to help him obtain a Maltese passport. Unknown to him the passport delivered to him by the agency was fake.
On returning to Nigeria, Mr Danu petitioned the State Security Service (SSS) over the passport fraud and his resultant arrest and deportation from the UK.
The SSS later referred the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is now pressing charges against one Rabbi Okpara.
PREMIUM TIMES had in December reported how Ms Okpara was docked by the EFCC before an FCT High Court for allegedly defrauding Mr Danu and other unsuspecting Nigerians.
Ms Okpara is the owner of Green Valley Concept Limited, a purported travel agency.
EFCC investigators said Ms Okpara used her travel agency to lure unsuspecting members of the public to buy into a sham travel/residency arrangement in Malta.
The EFCC said Ms Okpara in her statement to the agency admitted to liaising with a third party, one Mr Ugbaja, in obtaining these fake travel document for her clients.
Count one of the charges reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara and Jude Ugbaja(at large) sometime in August 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired between yourselves to do an illegal act, to wit; causing to be used as genuine forged documents, thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP, MI7 laws of Federation Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same act.”
Count two reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara, Jude Ugbaja ( at large), Green Valley Concept Ltd and Palmary Travels and Tours Ltd, sometimes in August 2019 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court forged a maltase passport with the name Nasiru Haladu Danu with number 9647443 dated 27 April/AVR 2018 with intent that it be used as genuine; thereby committed an offence contrary to 320(a) of the Penal Code, Law of the Federation 1990 and punishable under section 322 of the same law.”
Seized cash returned
Aside deporting Mr Danu to Nigeria on his arrest at the airport in September, the UK authorities also took possession of $100,000 found on the businessman.
The businessman had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it appropriately with customs authorities in Nigeria before travelling with it to the UK.
Mr Danu also explained that he travelled with that amount of cash because his credit card had failed him repeatedly, leaving him stranded on a number of occasions.
But despite his explanations, the UK authorities seized the cash and approached a court for confiscation hearing.
However, the legal team for Mr Danu challenged the UK Border agency’s move to permanently confiscate the money. They succeeded.
“The court found that the security officials were wrong to seize the money as the money was from legitimate income which was not intended for an unlawful purpose and should therefore be returned to the owners,” said Mr Danu’s lawyer, Femi Joshua.
Mr Danu’s Nigerian Bank account was credited with the money with interest in two tranches of $50,471 on September 23, according to documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
When contacted Tuesday, Mr Danu said he was pleased that the court noted that he was a victim of crime by a syndicate which swindled him and sold him a fake passport.
“The court saw that I am a legitimate and honest businessman and that the cash found on me were legitimately earned and properly declared,” Mr Danu said.