Crime

Nation will suffer irreparable damage if NIA registration is halted — Deputy AG tells court

The nation will suffer irreparable damage if the application for injunction against the ongoing Ghana card registration by the National Identification Authority (NIA) is granted by the court, Godfred Yeboah Dame, a deputy Attorney General has stated.

Two Ghanaian citizens, Messrs Kevor Mark-Oliver and Emmanuel Akumatey Okrah have asked a Human Rights High Court in Accra to injunct the Ghana card registration in the Eastern Region, in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.

Their cause of action stemmed from the announcement by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on March 15, 2020 for the suspension of public gatherings including workshops, conferences, funerals and religious activities for the next four weeks.

But the Deputy Attorney General, in an affidavit in opposition to the application for injunction argued that the NIA had been observing social distancing and personal hygiene protocols.

He said all staff of the NIA were supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitisers, hand gloves, liquid soap, water bowls and hand towels and, therefore, the measures outlined by the NIA could not be deemed to be a violation of the directives issued by the President.

He said that having regard to the many functions, including voter registration, which the exercise sought to achieve, Mr Dame contended that irremediable harm which could never be compensated in damages by the respondents would be occasioned by the grant of the injunction.  

Mr Dame stated that the applicants had demonstrated no cause of action to be protected by an injunction.

He said the application was frivolous, incompetent, and unmeritorious and urged the court to dismiss it.

On Friday, March 20, 2020, the applicants in their attempt to enforce the law filed an application for contempt of court praying the court to convict the Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority (NIA), Professor Kenneth Attafuah and three others for contempt of court.

The applicants want the court to punish the respondents for continuing with registration and issuance of the Ghana Card in the Eastern Region, after an interlocutory injunction had been served on the Authority on March 19, 2020, to stop the ongoing registration exercise, in the wake of outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ghana.

In their affidavit for committal for contempt of court, the applicants said the conduct of Prof. Attafuah and his colleagues amounted to interference with the administration of justice.

They argued that the registration and issuance of the Ghana Card in the Eastern Region, after the NIA had been served with the said originating motion and interlocutory injunction, was a clear disrespect to the court process.

According to them, the action of the Authority would render the judgement of the court a nugatory, since the registration would have been completed by the time the court gives its judgement.

It averred that the courts had held that the performance or exercise of a statutory duty or administrative function was no defence to committal for contempt, if the said action interfered with justice delivery or the administration of justice by the court.

It was the case of the applicants that the test for determining whether an action amounts to contempt was whether the act complained of interferred or tended to interfere with the due administration of justice.

The applicants stated that, the respondents did not violate any order of the court, but rather the action of the NIA in continuing with the registration and issuance of the Ghana Card was prejudicial to the outcome of the case.

They held that the continuous registration of Ghanaians in the Eastern Region by the respondents was contemptuous, and, therefore they must be convicted.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA 

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