Withdraw CI and amend it – Lawyer tells EC

EC Boss, Jean Mensa

A legal practitioner, Osman Alhassan has asked the Electoral Commission to withdraw and review the Constitutional Instrument (C.I) which makes the national identification card the sole requirement for registering to vote in the 2024 election.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, the lawyer argued that the EC’s decision to depend solely on the National Identification Authority (NIA) as proof that a prospective voter is a citizen is imprudent.

In his view, the decision portrays the Commission as incompetent to do its work.

“To rely on the NIA card is to tell Ghanaians that you are not competent enough or you are not as competent as NIA, to determine somebody’s age or the accuracy of somebody’s age or citizenship or bio-data on the birth certificate that is being used to get the Ghana card.

“So I think if they want the NIA to take over the Electoral Commission, they should let us know. Because that is exactly what they are communicating,” he said on Monday.

Mr. Alhassan also argued that should the CI be passed in its current state, many will be disenfranchised.

As such, he insisted that the CI be withdrawn and reviewed as a matter of urgency.

"They should withdraw the CI, go and amend it and ask themselves what can we do so that at the end of the voters’ registration process, as less people as possible are disenfranchised in the process."

On the same show, the  former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT)  charged EC to engage the NIA if it wants to use the Ghana Card as the sole document for elections.

According to Ernest Thompson, it will ensure that millions of prospective voters are not disenfranchised.

“The EC must work closely with the NIA moving forward. This is because the EC is not only interested in us voting, but it should also be interested in not disenfranchising people.

"It should be interested in the register because it will not only be for today, it might be for other elections so they need to work together."

In July, the EC placed before Parliament a draft C.I titled: Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2021, which is expected to regulate continuous voter registration.

Per the new C.I, the EC is seeking to make the Ghana Card the sole form of identification for eligible voters who want to get onto the electoral roll.

The C.I has been referred to the Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament. By convention, the committee is chaired by a member of the Minority group.

However, even before the EC laid the new C.I before Parliament, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) accused the EC of planning to compile a new voters register for the 2024 general election, with the Ghana Card as the only source document.

The Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, said any move by the EC to compile a new voters register with the Ghana Card solely as the mode of identification would not bode well for the country, especially when the EC had already expended huge sums of money to compile a new register which was used for the 2020 general election.

The EC debunked the assertion by the NDC and said the new C.I was only meant to regulate continuous registration, with the Ghana Card as the source document.

“We are not compiling a new voters register. The one we compiled in 2020 is a credible one, a very good register so we are not dispensing with it,” the Director of Electoral Services of the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoe, told the media.

Meanwhile, in Parliament, the new C.I laid by the EC caused heated debates, with the Minority calling for the EC to come and explain the rationale for the use of the Ghana Card as the only source document.

At Parliament’s sitting on July 21, the First Deputy Minority Chief Whip, Ibrahim Ahmed, said it was necessary for the EC to brief the House on the new C.I. to erase any “controversial issue of mistrust.”

On his part, the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, rejected the call by the Minority, describing it as premature, adding that the next general election is not yet due.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) in charge of Corporate Services, has clarified that without a Ghana Card, one will not be registered to vote.

Dr. Bossman Asare speaking in an interview on JoyNews’ The Pulse on Wednesday said this is because the Ghana Card has made an impact in our society with almost 17 million Ghanaians registered for it.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.