Court Removes Injunction On Ghana Card Registration

An Accra High Court has given the National
Communication Authority (NIA) the green light to continue its mass registration
for the Ghana Card in the Eastern Region.

The court, presided over by Justice Anthony
Oppong, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, gave
the go-ahead when he dismissed an application for injunction against the
exercise as well as a suit challenging the NIA from continuing with the registration
exercise after the President had placed a ban on social gatherings to curb the
spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In dismissing the application, the court said
it was filed based on an erroneous understanding of the President’s directive
on social distancing.

Suit

The NIA had announced that it had suspended its
Ghana Card registration after an outpour of public criticism in the wake of the
COVID-19 spread.

However, before the NIA could officially
announce the suspension, Kevor Mark-Oliver, who is the NDC Eastern Regional
Secretary, and one Emmanuel Akumatey Okrah, filed a suit against the
registration exercise.

They subsequently filed an application for
interlocutory injunction to compel the NIA to halt the exercise, pending the
determination of the suit which was scheduled for April 9.

The Attorney General then filed an application
praying the court to move the date for the hearing of the application forward
to yesterday which was granted by the court.

Withdrawal

Deputy Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame and
lawyer for the applicants, Nii Kpakpo Addo, were both not in court when the
case was called on Thursday.

The Counsel for NIA, Kwaku Asirifi, was present
while a Senior State Attorney, Yvonne Bannerman, held brief for the Deputy AG whom
she said was on his way to the court.

Attempted Withdrawal

Justice Oppong, having noticed the absence of
the lawyers, indicated that he had seen a copy of a request seeking to withdraw
the case.

He said they should have sought the leave of
the court to withdraw the application and also said he was already done with
his ruling on the matter.

He then proceeded to give his ruling on the
application for injunction.

Ruling

He said the case of the two applicants revolved
around the President’s directives on social distancing which he said the court
had extensively studied.

He said it was his conclusion that the address
which banned social gatherings did not bar the NIA from continuing its work.

He also held that the applicants’ rights to
register have not been breached since the Ghana Card was not the only means of
being registered as a voter.

Justice Oppong described the case of the
plaintiffs as a ‘drunken giant’ walking on the lips of a mosquito which is
bound to fall.

He subsequently dismissed the application as
well as the substantive case.

Cost

Just as the judge was about to conclude his
ruling, Mr. Dame representing the AG and Nii Addo, counsel for the plaintiffs, walked
in.

Justice Oppong indicated to Mr. Addo that he
decided to rule on the injunction because the lawyer was not around to move his
motion to withdraw the case.

The Deputy AG pointed out to the court that the
rules of the court required that the lawyers actually inform the court and ask
for permission to discontinue the case.

The Deputy AG added that he had been attacked
in the media for simply defending the state and now that the court had agreed
with him, he would not even bother to ask for cost.

The Counsel for NIA, Mr. Asirifi, however,
asked for a cost of GH¢20,000 against the applicants.

The court awarded a cost of GH¢6,000 against
the applicants.

NIA Suspension

After the ruling, the NIA issued a statement through its Head of Corporate Affairs ACI Francis Palmdeti saying it has suspended the exercise in the ER indefinaitely until further notice.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak