House passes National Identity Register Bill

 Prof. Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

Prof. Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

Parliament has passed the National Identity Register (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to pave way for the commencement of the nationwide registration exercise.

However, Ghanaians who do not have either a passport or a birth certificate would have to be vouched for by two relatives or by two non-relatives to be determined by the National Identification Authority (NIA).

Children under six years, unlike the National Register Act, 2008 which excludes children in that bracket from being registered, will be registered and given unique identifications numbers.

The amendment of the Act, according to Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, has become necessary as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Abu Ramadan v. Attorney General and Electoral Commission in which the court redefined which documents could be used as proof of citizenship.

Passed under a certificate of urgency, the purpose of the bill is to amend some aspects of the National Identification Authority Act, 2006 to bring the law in tune with modern trends and also ensure the accuracy and integrity of the country’s identification system.

During the final lap of consideration of the bill, now an Act, in Parliament on Friday, members disagreed on who should serve as a guarantor to citizens who do not possess the required documents to be captured onto the national register.

While members on the Minority side argued that an “influential” person was allowed to guarantee, the lawmakers from the Majority caucus preferred that only the Assembly Member or the Unit Committee Member were legitimised to front for a potential registrant.

The Majority’s argument at the end of the consideration which culminated into the passage of the bill reigned supreme giving legal backing to Assembly and Unity Committee members to guarantee for persons with the requisite documents.

Per the amendments, the Act extends the power to initiate challenge proceedings to members of the public if they were convinced a non-Ghanaian has been entered onto the register as a Ghanaian.

Issues pertaining to double registrations, the Committee in its report said, has been adequately catered for and gives disgruntled registrants the opportunity to take legal action against the NIA if they feel they have been unjustifiably disqualified.

“The Committee has critically examined the Amending Bill and believes that its passage is critical to the establishment of a comprehensive, robust and reliable national identity system,” the report signed by Ben Abdallah Banda, MP, Offinso South said.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

 

 

 

 

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