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Two Ghanaians sue NIA over ongoing registration exercise during Covid-19 outbreak

By Mutala Yakubu

The National Identification Authority has been sued for disregarding the President’s ban on public gatherings, following the coronavirus outbreak in Ghana.

In a suit by two Ghanaians, Emmanuel Akumatey and Kevor Mark-Oliver, they argue the mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region, where they live, “has a strong tendency in aggravating the spread of the coronavirus.”

Feeling endangered by the exercise, they want the Accra High Court (Human Rights Division) to stop the exercise.

The Attorney-General is joined to the suit.

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The plaintiffs are armed with the President’s directives, banning public gatherings after Ghana recorded the second case of coronavirus, March 14, 2020.

The ban issued March 15, excluded commercial activities in bars, restaurants and night clubs. But while churches and mosques affected by the ban find other ways to operate, the National Identification Authority has not flinched.

Sections of social media find the government’s continuous registration exercise in the Eastern Region inexplicable especially after a pastor has been arrested for violating the ban.

But Emmanuel Akumatey and Kevor Mark-Oliver want an explanation in court.

The plaintiffs drew the court’s attention to a statement issued by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) condemning the continuous registration exercise in the midst of a global pandemic.

“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,” portions of the GMA statement reads.

They also highlighted the risk of being disenfranchised if the registration to issue Ghana cards continued.

This is because that card is to be the basis for obtaining a voter’s ID card for the December 2020 general elections.

For them, abstaining from the exercise was, therefore, disenfranchisement while participation was health-endangering.

“That in as much as the Ghana card is so important to prove one’s Ghanaian citizenship, one cannot risk his life to get the Ghana card by being directly exposed to the coronavirus,” a motion filed in court reads.

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They believe both negatives could be avoided if the process is halted and have therefore asked for an interlocutory injunction.