Upon a careful scrutiny of The National Identity Register (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 950), I am totally baffled by the entrenched position of the N.I.A that the Ghanaian Voter's ID card is inadmissible as proof of citizenship in the ongoing Ghana Card registration exercise.
The suggestion that the law excludes Voter's ID cards from the Ghana Card registration criteria is completely unfounded, as a holistic reading of Section 3(a) of Act 950 proves otherwise.
For the avoidance of doubt, Section 3 of Act 950 which provides for the Requirements for Registration, states as follows:
Section 8 of the principal enactment is amended:
(a) by the substitution of subsection (1), of
"(1) The Authority shall require an individual who applies for an entry to be made in the register to submit any of the following identity documents:
(a) a birth certificate
(b) a valid passport
(c) a valid residence permit
(d) a valid certificate of acquired citizenship; and
(e) any other information as may be required by the Authority"
I submit that even though this section doesn't specifically capture Voter's ID cards as one of the requirements for registration, the omnibus clause; "any other information as may be required by the Authority" as per subsection 1(e), undoubtedly makes room for other identification documents/materials to be used as part of the Ghana Card registration criteria.
I therefore request the N.I.A to give us details of what constitutes "any other information as may be required by the Authority" as provided by subsection 1(e) Supra.*
Clearly, this provision vests discretionary power in the N.I.A to admit other identification materials as part of the requirements for registration, and this must of necessity include Voter ID cards in my view. It is important to state that, per article 296 of the 1992 Constitution, there is a constitutional implied duty on the N.IA to exercise this discretionary power in a fair and candid manner and not in an arbitrary, whimsical or capricious manner.
It is my considered view, that a true and proper interpretation of this omnibus provision will include Ghanaian Voter's ID cards in the registration criteria. I am fortified in this view by article 42 of the 1992 Constitution which provides that: "Every *citizen* of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda". Evidently, article 42 of the 1992 Constitution raises a presumption of citizenship for all Ghanaian Voter ID card holders, as was held in the Abu Ramadan case.
The presumption of citizenship that article 42 raises cannot be rebutted by the whims and caprices of the N.I.A, and any attempt to do so will be in violation of article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.
This presumption can only be successfully rebutted by probative evidence being adduced to show that a particular Voter ID card was procured unlawfully. Until that is done, every holder of a Ghanaian Voter's ID card is legally presumed to be a citizen of Ghana and entitled to be registered as such. On this basis, the phrase *"any other information as may be required by the Authority"* must to all intents and purposes, be interpreted by the N.I.A to include Ghanaian Voter's ID cards.
This point is further reinforced by the fact that only seven (7) million Ghanaians have a birth certificate and/or a valid passport according to the N.I.A's own statistics and the fact that, the other registration requirements available under the Law for the remaining twenty three (23) million Ghanaians are too onerous, expensive and arithmetically impracticable for the ordinary Ghanaian to bear.
Therefore, the exclusion of the Ghanaian Voter's ID card from the Ghana card registration criteria will deny millions of Ghanaians their right to be registered as Ghanaians under Act 950 and deprive them of the economic and other rights which will flow from it.
From the foregoing, it is glaringly clear that holders of Ghanaian Voter ID cards are entitled to be registered under the Ghana Card program, without amending the Law per se. It will be totally untenable and an abuse of discretionary power for the N.IA to exclude Voter's ID cards from the Ghana Card registration criteria. Any such attempt will be unlawful, unjust and a recipe for chaos.
I have confidence in the Justice delivery system of the country and I believe that in the final analysis, the position that Voter's ID cards be accepted as part of the Ghana Card registration criteria, will be vindicated and validated by the Supreme Court.