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30.05.2012 General News

Prisoners Biometric Cards Seized

By Daily Guide
Kofi Bansah, Director of PrisonsKofi Bansah, Director of Prisons
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The nationwide registration of prisoners took place yesterday with reports that voter ID cards were taken from the inmates by prison authorities.

In addition, only a few prisoners had the opportunity to write their names amidst protests by some who thought they had been unreasonably disenfranchised. 

A total of only 25 inmates in various prison establishments in the Brong Ahafo region were captured.

The special registration exercise conducted yesterday by the Electoral Commission in collaboration with the Prison authorities ended with some inmates having their ID cards confiscated by the prison officials.

There were officers waiting to collect the ID cards from the inmates as soon as they finished registering.

In all, 20 inmates made up of 15 males and five females got registered at the Sunyani Central Prisons.

Four others were captured at the Yeji Prisons Camp, while one was registered at the Kenyasi Prisons Camp.

However, no inmate was registered at the Duayaw Nkwanta Prison Camp because none of the prisoners there qualified.

A senior prison officer told  DAILY GUIDE  that only a few of the inmates were selected because the majority of them could not provide any credible national ID cards to prove that they were Ghanaians.

'You cannot tell the true identities of the inmates since some of them keep on changing their names and move from one place to another,' he said, adding that 'only those who came here with their national IDs such as Drivers' Licence, old voter ID cards and Health Insurance cards were considered.'

The officer said the seized ID cards would be given back to the inmates on the day of elections for them to exercise their franchise.

The Brong Ahafo Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, George Gyabaah, who witnessed the exercise with his Deputy, Samuel Boadu, said the exercise went on smoothly without any hitches and commended the active collaboration of the prisons authorities.

The Sunyani East Constituency Organiser of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bartholomew Nkoom, expressed his dismay about the sudden increase in the number of inmates slated to register.

According to him, at an IPAC meeting on Monday, the EC informed political parties that only 12 inmates in the Sunyani Central Prisons were qualified to register.

He however said the situation on the registration day changed without prior information to the political parties as the number increased from 12 to 20.

There were representatives from the NDC and the NPP to witness the exercise.

45 Registered in Kumasi and Manhyia Prisons
Only 23 of the over 1200 inmates at Kumasi registered.

Initially, only 12 inmates who were able to produce their previous voter ID cards showed interest in the exercise but on the D-day, additional 11 inmates produced their ID cards and were allowed to register.

According to the prison authorities, proper identification of the inmates was a huge challenge as most of them could not produce their previous voter ID cards, hence the small number that registered.

Though, representatives of the various registered political parties were allowed to enter the prisons to witness the exercise, only representatives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) were present.

Because the number of eligible applicants was limited, the registration officials spent a relatively short time administering the process as the exercise which began at about 8am came to an end by 10am.

At the Manhyia Prisons, DAILY GUIDE gathered that out of the 248 inmates only 22 were eligible and therefore registered.

21 Prisoners Registered In Obuasi
At the Obuasi Prisons, only 21 out of 128 qualified to register.

The registration of the 21 inmates brings the total voting population in the Obuasi constituency to 109,031.

The Municipal Electoral Officer, Francis Addai-Boateng, told DAILY GUIDE that the identities of most of the inmates could not be ascertained.

Out of 26 of the prisoners, five due to be released soon could not register.

Before the exercise, the commission had registered 109,010 voters for the entire constituency. Out of that figure, the eligibility of 287 persons was challenged by some political parties.

They were challenged on their mental capacity, age and citizenship.

Mr. Addai-Boateng explained that 75 percent of the challenge was age.

He disclosed that so far, the Municipal Registration Review Committee had cleared 42 out of 69 persons called to appear before it based on their eligibility.

The electoral officer said the committee was in its fourth sitting, with 30 of the challengers appearing before it every day.

'Ninety people should have appeared before the committee, but because not all of them were able to appear, we had 69,' Mr. Addai-Boateng explained. 

Samuel Tetteh, the Ashanti regional EC chairman, was satisfied with the exercise.

28 at Tamale Central Prisons
At the Tamale Central Prisons, 28 prisoners were registered, according to a Ghana News Agency (GNA) report.

Godwin Apaloo, Acting Deputy Commander of the Tamale Central Prisons, told GNA that the exercise was successful.

He said 21 prisoners with the required particulars were initially prepared by the prisons authorities for the exercise, however, on the morning of the exercise, seven others presented the right particulars and had been duly registered.

Mr Apaloo declined to give the total number of inmates at the Prisons, and said that such information should be sought from the Prisons Headquarters in Accra.

The exercise for prisoners in the 43 prisons nationwide was held simultaneously yesterday.

Ankaful Registers 23 inmates
Twenty three inmates were registered at Ankaful Prisons.

Philomena Edusei, the Central Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), said the low turnout was due to the fact that the inmates were asked to provide some form of identification since most of them used fake names in jail.

She said only 23 qualified after the process.
Meanwhile, she said nine inmates were registered at the Winneba prisons whilst three were registered at Awutu Camp prisons and none at Osamkrom Prisons in Gomoa East.

FROM Fred Tettey Alarti-Amoako, Sunyani, Morgan Owusu, Kumasi & Ernest Kofi Adu, Obuasi

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