By Mudasiru Abdul Yakeen
Contrary to claims by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the National Identification Authority (NIA) disobeyed President Nana Akufo-Addo’s directives banning all public gatherings, the Executive Secretary of the Authority, Professor Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, has said they did nothing wrong by not calling off the Ghana Card registration exercise in the Eastern Region during the early days of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.
The NIA boss, who was speaking on Asempa FM, said his outfit complied with the directives by the President, by observing all the laid down precautionary measures prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
“We were very careful to adhere to all the COVID-19 safety protocols issued by the President during the mass registration exercise in the Eastern Region. The President made it clear that there should be observation of social distancing at our various workplaces so that we can go about with our daily services and we did just that. The NIA did the right thing and I insist. I absolutely stand by that,” he said.
The NIA was accused of disobeying the President’s directive banning all social gatherings when it decided to continue with registration of people for the Ghana Card in the Eastern Region. A former Eastern Regional Secretary of the opposition party, Mark Oliver Kevor, and one Emmanuel Okrah filed a case in an Accra high court asking that the Authority to be stopped from carrying out the registration exercise. A Court of Appeal judge, Anthony Oppong, sitting as an additional High Court Judge, threw out the case, saying the application was based on a grievous error and misunderstanding of the President’s social distancing directive.
Last week, the National Chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, further accused the NIA of disregarding the directives, claiming that was a means of conniving with the Electoral Commission (EC) and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) to rig the 2020 election in favour of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
On Tuesday, the General Secretary of the opposition party, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, also claimed that the NIA’s decision was against the Executive Instrument prohibiting social gathering, adding that was the reason why the court ruled to stop them, even though the court had already ruled in favour of the Authority.
However, Professor Attafuah has stated that the decision to discontinue with the registration was a management decision to protect the lives of their staff and the public. He explained that, mindful of the safety protocols, the Authority had instituted plans to enforce all the safety protocols even before the court case, but decided to end the registration in the interest of the public.