In what will come as a shock to some Ghanaians and health experts, a High Court in Accra has given the National Identification Authority (NIA) the green light to proceed with its registration of Ghanaians for the Ghana Card despite the outbreak of coronavirus in the country.
The court presided over by Justice Anthony Oppong took the view Friday morning that proceeding with the national ID registration exercise will not be in defiance of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s ban on social gatherings.
In the court’s view, the directive issued by the President almost two weeks ago did not ban businesses from operating but rather directed them to put in place safety protocols against the virus which has so far affected 136 persons and killed three of them in Ghana.
Accordingly, the court struck out the injunction application that sought to stop the NIA from going ahead with the registration exercise in the Eastern Region, and a cost of 6000 awarded against the two applicants; Kevor Mark-Oliver and Emmanuel Akumatey Okrahm.
Criticism and NIA insistence
The NIA parried criticism that its registration flouts a directive by the president against social gatherings in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The NIA’s conduct does NOT violate the President’s directives on public gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Authority said in a statement on Thursday, March 19.
“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,” it said
But Mark-Oliver and Okrahm argued in their application that the mass registration exercise by the NIA in Eastern Region was in violation of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s directive and a breach of the fundamental human rights of the people.
An interlocutory injunction forced the NIA to suspend the mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region after initially rejecting calls from some Ghanaians and health experts.
A-G backs registration
But at the hearing of the injunction application on March 25, the Attorney General prayed the High Court to application, arguing it had no legal basis whatsoever on the basis that the exercise was not in violation of Nana Akufo-Addo’s ban on social gathering has been argued.
“As much as the President directed that all public gatherings should be suspended, in the same speech of Sunday, March 15, 2020, the President expressly preserved the continued operation of businesses and other workplaces subject to the observance of prescribed social distancing between patrons and staff.
“It is our contention that the functions of the NIA are part of the class of services, businesses and workplaces excluded by the ban imposed by the President’s directive. The applicants have no cause of action in respect of which an order of interlocutory injunction ought to be dismissed,” Deputy A-G Godfred Yeboah Dame argued in court.