An Accra High Court has placed an interim injunction on the National Identification Authority’s (NIA) mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region.
According to the court presided over by Justice Daniel Mensah, it had taken judicial notice of the president’s directive banning all social gatherings and the health risk the registration poses.
The decision of the court was as a result of an interim injunction application brought against the NIA by 29 individuals who reside in the Eastern Region.
The applicants led by Prince Tabi (1st Applicant) argued that the registration by NIA posed some serious health risks for registrants of which the court had to intervene because the Authority is acting ‘unreasonably and unfairly’.
They also made an order for cost and demanded any other remedies that the honourable Court may deem fit under the circumstances.
In their writ, they declared that:
“An order of injunction, restraining the Respondent, its agents, workmen and women, assigns howsoever named or described from continuing to carry out its mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region until such a time that (i) a vaccine is found for the deadly COVID-19 disease; (ii) the Ghana Health Service would declare that the COVID-19 disease is no longer an epidemic in Ghana; or (iii) the World Health Organization would declare that the COVID-19 disease is no longer an epidemic in Ghana, whichever happens last.”
On its part, however, the NIA told the court that it had to continue the registration exercise in other not to disenfranchise people who reside in the Eastern Region due to the Legislative Instrument presented to Parliament by the Electoral Commission which seeks to make the Ghana card and passport, the two major means of getting onto the new voters’ register.
Earlier two other citizens, Kevow Mark-Oliver and Emmanuel Akumatey Okrah sued the NIA arguing in their writ that the continuous registration and issuance of the Ghana card in the Eastern Region has a strong tendency in “aggravating the spread of the coronavirus”.
They among other things sought an interlocutory injunction restraining the NIA from continuing with the exercise until the coronavirus has been eliminated.
But following the interlocutory injunction application filed at the High Court restraining the NIA from continuing with the registration exercise, the Authority subsequently suspended the Ghana Card registration exercise in the Eastern Region.
The exercise was suspended “pending the final determination of the application,” the NIA noted in a statement.
Before the suspension, the NIA insisted that its decision to carry on with the Ghana Card registration exercise in the Eastern Region was not in violation of the directives concerning public gatherings.
This was despite reports indicating that citizens looking to register for the card were massing at some registration centres in contravention of expert advice for curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Observers also criticized the NIA for continuing with the exercise.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), for example, said the continuation of the registration was a breach of international and regional human rights instruments.
CHRAJ in a statement also said the NIA’s actions were a disregard of the existing World Health Organization (WHO) precautionary measures aimed at containing and combating the novel coronavirus.
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) also complained that the continuation of the exercise defeated the precautionary measures declared by the state to combat the pandemic.