Africa

Ghana apologises to Nigeria for embassy demolition

The demolished building
Image caption Armed men reportedly stormed the High Commission last week and destroyed a building under construction

Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo has apologised to Nigeria after a building inside the Nigerian High Commission compound in Accra was demolished.

Mr Akufo-Addo has ordered an investigation, a statement from the Nigerian government said after his call with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Armed men reportedly stormed the compound last week and destroyed buildings under construction.

Two people have been arrested over the incident.

They have been charged with Unlawful Entry And Causing Unlawful Damage.

A businessman who had previously claimed that he owned the land where the building was being put up had led the demolition operation, according to an article posted on the Nigerian High Commission website in Ghana.

"The man showed up last week with some papers to support his claim and began to knock down the fence surrounding the building," the article quotes a source at the ministry of foreign affairs as saying.

Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said a bulldozer was used during the 19 June incident which destroyed two residential buildings.

He called the demolition "outrageous and criminal" and urged Ghanaian authorities to protect Nigeria's diplomatic buildings.

Nigerians living in Ghana held a demonstration on Monday to condemn the demolition.

Ghana's foreign ministry said it regretted the incident and guaranteed that an investigation would be conducted, adding that security had been "beefed up" at the facility.

The country's former President John Mahama, however, condemned the demolition and criticised his successor's government.

"It beats my imagination how such a violent and noisy destruction could occur without our security agents picking up the signals to avert the damage," Mr Mahama tweeted.

Why Ghana-Nigeria relations are so important

BBC Nigeria reporter Celestina Olulode

As the largest economies in West Africa, Ghana and Nigeria's diplomatic relationship is crucial to the region and trade is a key part of that relationship.

But recent incidents serve as a reminder that their diplomatic ties haven't always been smooth.

Last year disputes over the status of foreign traders led to the temporary closure of some Nigerian-owned shops.

Another recent source of contention was Nigeria's decision to close its border with Benin, which affected traders across the region, including Ghanaians.

Today both sides recognise the need for strong bilateral ties.

Few expect to see the type of tensions witnessed in 1969-70 and 1983, when both sides expelled large numbers of the other's citizens.

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