Minority Ranking member on Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Hon Inusah Fuseini has said the National Identification Authority (NIA) is acting with impunity with its decision to exclude persons with voters ID Card as proof of citizenship for ongoing registration and issuance of the national card.
According to him, the NIA has no legal authority to determine who is a citizen of Ghana and described the decision as an act of impunity.
Hon Inusah who is also Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, made the observation during an interview with THE REPUBLIC in parliament last Thursday.
He hinted that,the Minority would have no option than to proceed to the Supreme Court over the decision of NIA to exclude the Voters ID as proof of citizenship in their bid to register Ghanaians.
He stated that, it is only the Supreme Court that could give the true interpretation of what constitutes proof of citizenship.
The NIA began a nationwide Ghana Card registration process to provide citizens with a multifaceted identity card that would be used for voting, national health, driving license, etc.
As part of the registration requirement citizens are to provide either a passport or a birth certificate as proof of registration.
In the absence of those two identification materials, persons who wish to be registered and be given the new Ghana Card must come with two witnesses who must have registered already on the Ghana Card to testify that the applicant is a Ghanaian.
This arrangement has not gone down well with a section of the majority, particularly the opposition National Democratic Congress.
The Minority has refused to take part in the registration process, accusing the NIA of attempting to disenfranchise a lot of Ghanaians.
They argue, the Voters ID remained the most credible ID card for a lot of Ghanaians. Banning it will mean failing to register a lot of Ghanaians.
But the Executive Secretary of the Authority Prof Ken Attafuah, who appeared before Parliament, explained the NIA is a creature of statutes and was operating in accordance with the laws passed by the MPs.
“The Parliament of this Republic in its collective wisdom and experience, has determined that the documents that can be used for the Ghana Card are birth certificates and valid passports.”
“The Parliament of Ghana has declared that the Voter ID is not one of the identity documents for getting the Ghana Card,” and made copious references to the act passed by Parliament.
He therefore found it strange the same legislators who passed the law are now kicking against its implementation.
Nevertheless, the Tamale Central lawmaker insisted that only the Supreme Court could interpret who is a citizen of Ghana.
He told the paper that, any person whose name is in the voter Register and hold voter ID is a Prima Facea and proven to be a citizen of Ghana.
For that, he said, the Minority would proceed to SC to compel the NIA to accept the voter identity card as proof of citizenship and are eligible to apply for the Ghana card, arguing that, at the committee level, the Minority never accepted for the voter ID to be excluded from the requirement.
Mr Insusah said, it would be wrong to state that, the NIA Act as amended necessarily amended Article 42 of the 1992 ,pointing out that, the voter card stand more credible than passport and birth certificate.
He argued that in all material time, passport has always been a traveling document and not a citizenship, while the birth certificate is also a proof of birth and not proof of citizen.
The Minority Spokesperson on legal matters contended that, the NIA is working with impunity and must be made to respect the constitution which is the supreme law of the country.
He said, “citizenship is conferred by virtue of the constitution and no other law,” and that anybody with the Ghana’s Voters card has passed the constitutional requirement and must be afforded the opportunity to register.
He maintained that, any exercise geared towards registering could not be said to be legal and appropriate without the Voter’s ID, stress that the apex court has the power to review decisions taken by Parliament including the amendment on the new registration process.
Mr Inusah added that, the Minority are also concerned about the amount of money being spend on the registration exercises.
He said, for a country of an estimated population of 29 million to spend $1.2billion for a common card remained questionable and assured that the Minority would continued to scrutinise the government and its policies expenditure.
Source: the republic news online.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba