Prime News Ghana

Covid-19: We did not violate President's directive on public gathering - NIA to critics  

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
NIA's Ghana Card
NIA's Ghana Card

The National Identification Authority, NIA says they have not violated President Akufo-Addo's directive on public gathering aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and other groups have asked the NIA to immediately suspend its Ghana card registration in the Eastern Region.

According to the Ghana Medical Association, the exercise by the NIA puts the whole country at risk.

“In the interest of Public Health and Safety, the GMA calls on the National Identification Authority (NIA) to suspend with immediate effect the ongoing mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region. The mass registration exercise also defeats the spirit and letter of the directives (especially on mass gathering) issued by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana as part of the measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.”

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“It is the considered view of the GMA that these mass registration activities by the NIA if allowed to continue could create a fertile ground for potential spread of COVID-19 endangering the lives of the staff of the NIA, the communities involved and the entire nation in the process. This will undoubtedly be fatal for the country.”

But in response to critics on Facebook, the NIA said "The NIA's decision to continue with the mass registration exercise after this Presidential directive has come under severe criticism condemnation, with some describing the ongoing registration as defying the orders of the President and calling for the immediate cessation of the exercise."

According to them, they have not violated any directive but rather their decision is harmonious with both the letter and spirit of the following equally compelling directive of the President.

"The NIA's conduct does NOT violate the President's directives on public gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, the NIA decision is harmonious with both the letter and spirit of the following equally compelling directive of His Excellency The President."

Full statement below:

"All public gatherings, including conferences, workshops, political rallies, sporting events and religious activities, such as services in churches and mosques, have been suspended for the next four (4) weeks. Private burials are permitted, but with limited numbers, not exceeding twenty-five (25) in attendance".* These were the words of His Excellency The President in relation to public gatherings when he addressed the nation last Sunday night on Ghana's response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The NIA's decision to continue with the mass registration exercise after this Presidential directive has come under severe criticism condemnation, with some describing the ongoing registration as defying the orders of the President, and calling for the immediate cessation of the exercise.

The NIA's conduct does NOT violate the President's directives on public gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the contrary, the NIA decision is harmonious with both the letter and spirit of the following equally compelling directive of His Excellency The President, " *Businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate, but should observe prescribed social distancing between patrons and staff".* The state of Ghana is not in a lock-down, and the business of Government is not expected to cease. The activities of NIA are consistent with this position and the above directive of the President. The issue is not whether or not NIA should continue with the registration exercise but rather its implementation of the social distancing and personal hygeine protocols.

NIA is using a numbering and appointment system to manage queues at the registration centres and ensure that there is no crowd build-up and violation of social distancing protocols. All NIA field staff are being supplied with the requisite Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), such as hand sanitizers and gloves. Veronica Buckets,water bowls, liquid soap and hand towels are also being provided at each registration centre.

In addition, applicants' details and telephones numbers are taken on arrival, and they are given specific times to report at the center for registration or card issuance, instead of congregating at the centres. All staff and applicants at registration centres are regularly advised by the Supervising Registration Officer (SRO) to observe the appropriate two-meter social distancing instruction, as well as personal hygeine protocols.
These measures are consistent with the Directives of His Excellency The President, as well as the advice of the health experts.