The Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA), Professor Ken Attafuah, is being threatened with a contempt charge over the ongoing Ghana Card registration exercise amidst the novel coronavirus fears.
Two Ghanaian nationals, Mark Oliver Kevor and Emmanuel Akumatey Okrah on Thursday sued the NIA over its continued Ghana Card registration exercise despite the Presidential Directives on halting public gatherings and practising social distancing as part of the novel coronavirus preventive measures.
Lawyer for the two individuals, Nii Kpakpo Samoa Addo has vowed to cite Mr. Attafuah for contempt of court if the exercise is not suspended by 8 am today [Friday].
“As I speak now, NIA has been served. If by 8 am [on Friday, March 20, 2020] the NIA does not seize operations in the Eastern Region, by 12 noon, the NIA Executive Director will be cited for contempt,” the lawyer of the plaintiffs, Nii Kpakpo Samoa Addo, said to Citi News.
The NIA, however, insists that its decision to carry on with the Ghana Card registration exercise in the Eastern Region does not violate the directives concerning public gatherings in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic of which Ghana has recorded 11 cases.
“On the contrary, the NIA’s decision is harmonious with both the letter and spirit of the equally compelling directive of His Excellency the President, that businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate, but should observe prescribed social distancing between patrons and staff,” a statement from the NIA said.
But evidence on the ground suggests some centres are not observing the protocols.
Concern from CHRAJ
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has raised concern that the continuation of the registration is 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.
It thus called on the President to order the NIA to suspend the registration process.
CHRAJ had similar concerns with the Electoral Commission (EC) and its compilation of a new voter register.
The NIA’s preventive measures
According to the NIA’s safety measures, no more than 25 field officers are to be at a Ghana Card registration centre at the same time.
In dealing with applicants, officers have been directed to take the particulars of the applicants when they arrive at the centres so they can schedule appointments.
Officers are also supposed to keep a social distance of two metres when interacting with the public.
The iris scanners which capture biometric data are supposed to be wiped down after each applicant uses them.