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GUTA, NUTAG in bloody clash …7 arrested, 3 injured

There was pandemonium at the Circle Tiptoe Lane in Accra yesterday when executives of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) clashed with their Nigerian counterparts following an attempt to lock up their shops.

There was sporadic firing of gun shots and pelting of stones among the two factions which resulted in traders and commuters running helter skelter for their lives.

This reporter was hit with a wood at her back during the clash.

It took the timely invention of police personnel from the Accra Regional Command and the Nima Divisional Command who fired warning shots to calm the situation.

Seven suspects were arrested by the police to assist in investigations while three others who sustained various injuries during the clash were rushed to the hospital for medical attention.

More than 70 shops belonging to Nigerians, mostly dealers in mobile phone accessories were locked and painted red when the Ghanaian Times got to the scene.

There was armed policemen positioned at various vantage points with their water cannons to protect lives and prevent reprisal attacks.

The Nima Divisional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Abraham Acquaye told journalists that the tension between the two groups posed a security threat because of reprisals.

He said the police received information about the situation and personnel were detailed to the scene.

The Commander said the police fired warning shots to disperse the angry mob at the scene, adding that seven people were arrested to assist in investigations.

He said the police had met both parties to calm the situation.

ACP Acquaye said the police would remain at the scene to ensure the safety of traders.

An executive member of GUTA, Mr Eric Gyamfi, told the Ghanaian Times that the executives were enforcing the law to ensure that no foreigner engaged in retail business in the country, adding that these trades were meant for only Ghanaians.

He said the executives of the association were ensuring that the law was enforced in the country to protect the economy.

“We will continue to close all shops which belong to the foreigners to ensure they do not engage in such businesses,” he added.

Mr Gyamfi said there had been constant reports of the activities of the retail trading to the appropriate authority but no action had been taken, adding that GUTA would ensure that the law that prevented such trading activities was discouraged in the country.

He said those foreigners who have permit can present them to GUTA for the necessary action.

It would be recalled that there was similar exercise at the Central Business District of Accra by GUTA.

The action according to them was to prevent foreigners from engaging in retailing business in the country.

BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI

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