In recent times, there have been lots of complaints from some Nigerians, including some from their diplomatic community, about the negative reportage in the Ghanaian media about Nigerian suspects/criminals.
The argument is that such people, when apprehended, should be made to face the full rigours of the law without linking them to their country of origin. Thankfully, all those who make a case in the Ghanaian media that such suspects should not be negatively identified or tagged as Nigerians have never denied the fact that some of them indulge in criminal acts.
Yet typical of us as Ghanaian, we are unable to confront them forcefully and explain why a thief must be called a thief and the need to clarify their nationality.
The truth is that, these complaints are not new and dates back into history and so also is the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria, which goes back to the pre-colonial era.
To say the least, this relationship has been of benefit to us mutually. There has been transfer of skills, exchange of goods, services and more. In today’s Ghana, there are several businesses, both big and small, which are being run by Nigerians, including financial institutions.
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We have also tapped into their expertise in the oil sector, where they are certainly leading. At a time when the only cement manufacturer was holding us to ransom, it took Dangote to bring some price stability to the sector. Nigerian banks in Ghana have created employment avenues for many Ghanaians.
In a similar vein, Ghanaian lecturers, doctors, drivers, accountants, engineers, etc, are earning a living in Nigeria and contributing to the development of that country. As in all human institutions, I am not by any stretch of the imagination suggesting that all of these Ghanaians are saints. There are bound to be pockets of miscreants.
The question then is, why the name tagging after all these years of mutually beneficial co-existence? The answer lies in the old adage, “when the frog is overwhelmed by water, it croaks”.
Thanks to an ECOWAS protocol, which encourages the free movement of goods and services among its member states, the number of Nigerians living in Ghana keeps increasing and so also are those who have vowed to make crime a profession. They are usually found in kidnapping, rape, ritual murders, cybercrime, armed robbery, car snatching and more.
I also reckon that some of them have done these with the connivance of some Ghanaians. Postulating that criminal prosecutions should end such matters is simplistic. All human beings, unless they landed from space, belong to geographical locations called countries and also respond to names.
Whatever our actions and inactions, we are always identified by our names and where we come from. If we are happy and proud to see Aliko Dangote, Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha as our compatriots, then in the same way, we should share in the shame of the criminals.
After all, there is a saying that nobody is born a criminal, but society makes criminals. Recently, about 80 cyber fraudsters of Nigerian origin were busted in the USA and publicised heavily, but there was not even a cough from Nigeria, was it because it was almighty America?
Around the same time, about 20 Ghanaians were deported from the same destination for various crimes and they were tagged as Ghanaians, because they were so. Then also was the case of Adoboli, who was described by the British media as “ the Ghanaian rogue trader”.
The gentleman had spent virtually all his life in the UK, but as soon as he was involved in crime, not only was he identified as a Ghanaian, but he was repatriated home.
The internationally acclaimed drug Baron, Pablo Escobar, was always tagged as a Colombian. Unless these criminals dropped from space, they will always be identified with their countries of origin.
I think we, as journalists, should continue to expose all criminals and name and shame them no matter where they come from. Remember that the “who” and “where” are very important in any story.
In fact, in tracking crime trends in any country, it is critical that their nationality is considered. This kind of “beating us and at the same time preventing us from crying must stop.
After all, there is no smoke without fire. Stop the crime and we will stop mentioning your country, simple!
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