Ghana’s police and immigration have arrested and expelled 541 Nigerians and about 2,000 Togolese and Burkinabe for “overpopulating a community”.
Many of those arrested had lived in Ghana for years.
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They were arrested in Bolgatanga and taken to Aflao, a border town between Togo and Ghana, and detained in an open field for a week.
“We just woke up one morning to see the police arresting everyone,” Eze Maxwell, who was also arrested, told FIJ.
“They first said that our population was too much. They later said the community people said we were raping their girls, smoking and doing illegal businesses.”
Maxwell, 25, an indigene of Enugu State, moved to Ghana last year. He told FIJ that in Ghana, he sold machine spare parts and did a multilevel marketing and networking business.
While the Burkinabe and Togolese who were arrested were allowed to return to their countries, the Nigerians were detained and told to wait for the Nigerian embassy.
“They said that the embassy would have to come and see us and then talk to Togo and Benin to open their borders for us,” Maxwell said.
“When they called someone at the embassy, he said he travelled and could not come to see us. But because of the prison break in Imo State, he said we must wait for him to come and check if we were among those that broke out of jail.”
For a week, the Nigerian embassy official did not show up. Detainees had to feed themselves, as Ghanaian officials fed them only occasionally.
“When the Nigerian official did not show up, they gave us forms to fill our addresses, names and pictures.. He confirmed that we were not among those inmates who broke out of prison,” Maxwell said.
Under pressure from the owner of the property where the detainees were kept, Ghanaian officials told the Nigerians that those who had N20,000 transport fare back to Nigeria would be allowed to leave.
“Those that had the money, made calls. About 300 people were able to raise the money and they got a bus for them,” he said. “Those who could not afford it called our business partner, Eze Ndigbo Na Ghana; he gave N500,000.”
Shortly after arriving in Nigeria, Maxwell is considering returning to Ghana because of his business.
Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Head of Media of the Nigeria in Diaspora Commission, told FIJ that the Commission was not aware of the situation. He urged the affected persons to write a petition to the commission.