General News of Saturday, 21 May 2016
The Electoral Commission of Ghana should not be intransigent with regards to carrying out the order given by the Supreme Court to the election management body to delete from the register of voters, names of persons who registered using National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards as a means of identification, Mr Opoku Agyemang, a senior law lecturer at the Ghana School of Law has said.
According to him, the order given by the Supreme Court was emphatic and unambiguous, so, “it should not be as if we have a recalcitrant and intransigent [EC].”
The EC, in a response to the Supreme Court ruling on a case brought before it by Mr Abu Ramadan, former National Youth Organiser of the PNC and one Evans Nimako, in which they challenged the credibility of the register, said the apex court’s ruling did not instruct the commission to delete the names of those who registered with their NHIS cards.
But speaking in an interview with Class 91.3 FM’s Emefa Apawu on “5o5” on Friday May 20, Mr Opoku Agyemang said the EC was wrong with its interpretation of the ruling.
He explained that “after the declaration statement, then they [Justices of the Supreme Court] made consequential orders. Two of them: (a) and (b). That is where they said delete or as we normally say, ‘clean by processes of law’, and then when you have done that afford the opportunities to people who were ineligible to be on the register to register.
“Anytime you look at (a) and (b), you have to go back to the reasons and the statement that they made …you will realise that when it comes to the (a), [the court ordered the EC] to clean, and to clean means to remove the names of the dead and the ghosts; (b) delete minors then; (3) NHIS card holders are ineligible. What opportunities can you offer a dead person to register? It doesn’t make sense; you cannot go and open a registration centre at a cemetery to resurrect the dead persons to come and register, so, certainly the Supreme Court was not referring to them [when it ordered for re-registration],” he told Emefa.
He added that: “Now minors, do you offer a minor who has committed an offence opportunity to register? I don’t think the Supreme Court will glorify commission of a crime …that person will have to be prosecuted and if convicted, will even be barred from having his name registered for five years.”
Mr Opoku Agyemang added that “so, if you take the two out, what is left? What is left will be those who are holding the NHIS cards, which they used to register, then you go back again to what they said; they said these people, it was not their fault to have registered with NHIS cards because at that time, the laws allowed it”.
“The C.I. allowed them to do the registration with that card, so, it is not that they have committed any offence intentionally, therefore, it will also be counterproductive to delete them and disenfranchise them without making any arrangement for them to re-register.”
According to the law lecturer, “if you look at it critically, then the B is certainly referring to these people that you have registered [with NHIS cards]. …And having been declared unconstitutional, what then do we do? Do we disenfranchise them? Then the court said ‘no’. With the processes that you have, go and register them for them to prove their eligibility now.
“So, I don’t see what the problem really is because certainly the mischief to cure was to delete people who are ineligible, then once that is done, in order not to disenfranchise them, give opportunity [to re-register],” he noted.
“I was of the view that maybe the EC will come because they have told the court that they have the records of all these people. I think the best way could have been publishing the names of those who might have registered with the NHIA cards because you have to give them a hearing, so, you publish their names and inform them that you registered with the NHIA cards, but the Supreme Court has declared that registration as unconstitutional, but we do not want to disenfranchise you, so, we want you to come back now with proper Ghanaian identification, so that we re-register you for a new card,” he suggested.