Exactly 38 years ago today in January 1983 , President of Nigeria, Shehu Shagari issued an executive order to expel two million undocumented West African migrants, half of whom were from Ghana.
After the expulsion, the over 1 million Ghanaians headed westwards, passing through Benin and Togo. Because of an attempted coup the previous year, the President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, had closed the main land crossing with Togo, and to avoid a sudden influx of returnees, Togo then also shut its borders with Benin.
Therefore, once the migrants reached Benin, the way out was restricted and they were forced to remain in the port of Cotonou, the country’s seat of government, attempting to find a boat to Ghana.
After they had been stranded for more than a week, Ghana reopened its borders, causing Togo to do likewise so that the Ghanaians could return home. Thousands of Ghanaians died at the border.