Digital Address Sparks National Identification Standoff

The Centre for Socioeconomic Studies (CSS) notes with grave concern the allegations that some officials of the National Identification Authority (NIA) have been refusing to register individuals who are either unwilling or unable to provide a digital address code.

Our investigations have not only confirmed these allegations; but also, we have established that the refusal is an official directive from the top echelons of the NIA. The CSS is particularly concerned as today marks the beginning of a mass registration exercise and issuance of the Ghana Card by the NIA.

The CSS wishes to state that this directive and the resulting practice of refusing to register eligible Ghanaians for the Ghana Card are wrong on at least three grounds. First, the refusal is illegal to the extent that the provision of a digital address code is not an eligibility criterion under the National Identity Register Act, 2008 (Act 750) as amended by the National Identity Register (Amendment) Act, 2017 (Act 950).

Second, the refusal is discriminatory in the sense that it indirectly excludes the Ghanaian masses – that is the poor – from being registered and issued with a Ghana Card. This is because, as it stands now, a person cannot obtain a digital address code without access to a smartphone and reliable internet service; both of which costs a lot of money, and out of reach for a majority of Ghanaians.

Third, the refusal is inimical to the overall purpose of the Ghana Card project which, according to its underlying policy, is to help advance economic, political and social activities in Ghana through the proper identification of citizens.

Based on the above, we wish to call on the leadership of the NIA to do the following forthwith:

  1. Desist from using the non-provision of a digital address code as a basis for refusing to register duly qualified Ghanaian citizens for the Ghana Card; and
  2. Return to all the areas where they had initially refused registration to duly qualified Ghanaians, compensate the affected persons in monetary terms for the inconvenience, and proceed to rectify this unfortunate situation by registering these people.

We also wish to call on all public service providers who have the intention to or have actually been refusing public services to persons who do not have the Ghana Card to abandon such intentions or desist from this unlawful practice.

In the meantime, we have instructed our lawyers to investigate the legality of the entire digital address code project.

 

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