The National Identification Authority (NIA) insists that its decision to carry on with the mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region does not violate the directives of President Nana Akufo-Addo concerning public gatherings in the wake of the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Authority has come under intense criticism from the public after going ahead with its Ghana card registration despite an announcement my President Akufo-Addo for social distancing to be observed as part of efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The President also ordered the closure of schools and suspension of all conferences, funerals, religious events among others for that purpose.
In response to the criticisms, the NIA said given that it is observing the relevant protocols concerning social distancing, it does not find its decision to go ahead the registration as being against the directives of President Akufo-Addo.
In a statement on its Facebook page on Thursday, the NIA insisted that its “conduct does not violate the President’s directives on public gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.”
The Authority further argued that “the state of Ghana is not in a lock-down, and the business of Government is not expected to cease.”
“The issue is not whether or not NIA should continue with the registration exercise but rather its implementation of the social distancing and personal hygiene protocols.”
The NIA said it had adopted a system that makes sure that queues at its centres are managed in a way that will ensure that they are no queues or crowd build-up.
“All NIA field staff are being supplied with the requisite Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs), such as hand sanitizers and gloves. Veronica Buckets, water bowls, liquid soap and hand towels are also being provided at each registration centre,” it added in its statement.
The claims in the statement are however opposite to what Citi News observed at some centres.
Registrants were in queues and lined closely together.
A registration officer who spoke on Eyewitness News on condition of anonymity discounted claims that they felt safe and had been supplied with the necessary protective equipment to enable to carry out their work confidently.
He said they were only given hand sanitizers.
NIA sued for continuing Ghana card registration
Two citizens have sued the National Identification Authority (NIA) over the mass registration and issuance of the Ghana card to Ghanaians in the Eastern Region amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The plaintiffs, Kevow Mark-Oliver and Emmanuel Akumatey Okrah argue in their writ that the continuous registration and issuance of the Ghana card in the Eastern Region has a strong tendency in “aggravating the spread of the coronavirus”.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice had also called on government to call the NIA to order over its insistence on going ahead with the Ghana card registration despite the COVID-19 scare.