The opposition National Democratic Congress,NDC has applied for a review of the supreme Court’s Judgement on the exclusion of birth certificates and existing voter’s identity cards from registration requirements to get onto the Electoral Commission’s new Voter’s Register.
According to the opposition National Democratic Congress, they were powerless when the Apex Court of Ghana delivered judgment on the issue on 25th June 2020 because the reasons for the judgment were not given by the supreme Court until 15th July 2020, 20 days after the judgment was announced.
The NDC also explained that, their lawyers went to work on the judgement and realized a number of very cogent reasons why they think the judgment of the Supreme Court was wrong and that on that premise, they proceeded to apply for a review of the Judgement at the supreme Court.
The party in a press statement also listed two major reasons why they proceeded to apply for a review of the supreme Court’s Judgement as listed below;
1. We take a critical view of the holding of the Supreme Court that our birth certificates are worthless as proof of our identity, and thereby, our nationality. As our lawyers have stated in their arguments in the review application; “…….Registering births and deaths has been a basic element in official national record keeping for decades. The certificates resulting from these registers are well known and, with respect to the birth certificate in particular, its relevance for public purposes such as obtaining a passport is very well established. Indeed, it is not only in Ghana that this is the case. Throughout the world, the keeping of official records of birth and the use of the resulting birth certificate for public purposes is well established.”
A Ghanaian birth certificate shows one’s date and place of birth, age, parentage, and nationality; precisely the kind of information that would be required for any form of voter registration.
Our lawyers have also pointed out that “Because the connecting factors relevant to determination of nationality are primarily place of birth and parentage, birth certificates are definitely evidence of great importance for citizenship determination.”
This is particularly so, as the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana has enacted a law, National Identity Register (Amendment) Act, 2017, Act 950, which affirms the efficacy of a birth certificate as an identification document that proves citizenship. We therefore find it surprising and worrying, that the Supreme Court would hold that “A birth certificate is not a form of identification”.
2. The Supreme Court’s decision that holders of existing voter ID cards cannot use same as a source of identification, is also a matter of great concern to us as a political party. It is our view, that holders of existing voter ID cards have acquired rights based on the fact that the Electoral Commission have gone through a process of identifying them, ascertaining their ages and nationality and has adjudged them to be eligible to vote.
This data appears on the face of each voter ID card and in our view, should constitute prima facie identification of its holder for the purpose of any fresh voters’ registration exercise. What surprises us is that, it is the same Electoral Commission which issued these cards at high expense to the state, that is now alleging strenuously, with hardly any proof, that its own process of issuing those cards was so poisoned that those cards should not be accepted as proof of identity. This we maintain is arbitrary, whimsical and capricious.
These exceptional circumstances, are what have necessitated the present application for the review of the judgment of the Supreme Court on this matter.
As a key stakeholder in Ghana’s electoral process and our constitutional democracy as a whole, we feel deeply concerned about holding democratic institutions accountable. And accountability, in our considered opinion, includes not allowing democratic institutions to indulge in self-deprecation as it is the case now with the Electoral Commission.