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07.08.2020 Opinion

Voters ID Cards, Birth Certificates And The Supreme Court

By Alhaji Haruna Rashid Ibrahim
Voters ID Cards, Birth Certificates And The Supreme Court
LISTEN AUG 7, 2020

The recent NDC case in the Supreme Court concerned citizens who had previously exercised their entitlement to register and, thereby, obtained their voters ID cards issued by the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission registered these citizens, entered their names on the voters’ register, and issued them with voter ID cards. By doing so, the Electoral Commission undoubtedly represented to them that they could exercise their rights to vote. Such citizens can be said to have accrued rights in that regard. On what basis would the very Electoral Commission that issued those voter ID cards now seek to deny the use of the same cards as identity and proof of a right that has accrued to them? Should our Supreme Court have, by the stroke of a pen, disentitled such citizens with valid voter ID cards from using them as proof of identification in a future voter registration exercise? Well, they did!

Is it not the case that the Supreme Court itself had, previously in the Abu Ramadan case, ordered the Electoral Commission to clean up the existing register by removing from it the names of those who had registered by using the NHI card as proof of identity? If we assume that the Electoral Commission complied with the Supreme Court’s orders, why would the same Supreme Court, after its orders had been complied with by the Electoral Commission, now rely on the Abu Ramadan case to say that the Register of voters is unclean?

Can you imagine that even when the Supreme Court held in the Abu Ramadan case that there were some anomalies with the existing voters’ register, it also held that those anomalies were not enough to invalidate the whole Register, and that the fault of a few could not be used to disenfranchise the whole voter population? Even in relation to those who were identified to have used the NHI cards to register, the Supreme Court gave them the opportunity to register again, using other means of identification. So what has changed? Why would the same Supreme Court go back on its word and now say that, as a matter of fact, the faults of those few now affect the whole register, and take away the rights of everybody on that register?

Do you know that the Supreme Court says that your birth certificates are now worthless documents in identifying who you are and, thereby your nationality? Think about it. If you don’t have a passport or Ghana card, and you were asked to prove your age, what would you use? And, oh, by the way, was the birth certificate not used as identification for the purpose of issuing passports and Ghana cards to holders? How would you also prove your nationality? Have you thought that even if you held a birth certificate today which showed you were born in Ghana, and you added your parents' birth certificates to it which showed that they were also born in Ghana, you would still not have succeeded in proving your identity and nationality? Well, that is what the Supreme Court now says. Allah help us.

Alhaji Haruna Rashid Ibrahim

Director of Research

National Democratic Congress

Nima, Accra

7th August 2020

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