The National Identification Authority (NIA) has described as “inaccurate” certain statements made by the flag bearer of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr John Dramani Mahama at a press conference held on Thursday, 25 June 2020, following the Supreme Court ruling on the NDC vs the Electoral Commission case.
Mr Mahama claimed at the press conference that: “The Ghana card, which has been made one of two identification documents for the registration of a new voter card, has not been rolled out in full.”
Responding to this claim, the NIA, in a statement, said: “It fully rolled out the mass registration exercise on 29 April 2019 to register Ghanaians and issue them with biometric ID cards and was left with just a week to complete. But for the outbreak of COVID-19, NIA would have completed the registration exercise in the Eastern Region by 27 March 2020 after having conducted the exercise in 15 other regions. The mop-up exercise currently underway is to further provide opportunity for those who could not register to do so.”
It continued that: “Indeed, as of 23 June 2020, NIA had registered a total of 11,385,494 eligible Ghanaians, printed 11,172,261 cards and issued 10,854,829 cards to qualified Ghanaians. The target was to register 80% of the population aged 15 and above. A total number of Ghanaians aged 18 and above have been issued 10,576,120 Ghana Cards. By the end of the mop-up registration exercise, it is expected that 16.7 million eligible Ghanaians would have been captured on the National Identity Register and issued the Ghana card.”
Touching further on Mr Mahama’s claim that the Ghana cards are still being issued with no mechanism for verification, the NIA said the claim is “false.”
The authority explained that: “The majority (7,163,935) of Ghana cards have been issued through the online verification mechanism. There is an inbuilt mechanism for the verification of the 3,690,894 cards currently being issued using the card issuance album. The use of manual verification is not a novel practice. There are various methods of verification. One can use the ocular inspection method, the match-on-card method or the one-to-many method which is online. The National Identity System is designed to utilise any or all of these methods.
“Applicants who visit the card issuance centres are identified and issued their Ghana Cards by NIA officials using the ocular verification method, i.e., crosschecking of their photographs, name, date of birth, telephone number and other details as captured in the album against the registration slips they submit or their verbal claim.”
It added that the adoption of the card issuance album in the card distribution process was informed by the following considerations:
i. To enable speedy distribution of 3.9 million cards to applicants.
ii. To prevent the situation of having 3.9 million applicants across the country going to the registration centres when NIA’s mop-up exercise starts. The manual verification will reduce the risk of applicants undermining the protocols on physical distancing (COVID-19).
The NIA further described as “false”, another claim by Mr Mahama that the authority itself has admitted to duplication of thousands of these cards.
“This statement is regrettably false. Out of the 11,172,261 printed as at 23 June 2020, there has only been 525 instances where more than one card has been printed for an individual bearing different Personal Identification Numbers. This situation was caused by an error during a system update which error has since been resolved.
“A more detailed explanation is on the NIA website and was in the speech of the Executive Secretary of NIA when he addressed the media on 17 June 2020. Suffice to add that, only one card can be active against a set of biometrics (face, fingers and iris). In effect, no one can use two cards at the same time neither can anyone use the card of another person. The system automatically assigns invalid multiple card details to a watch list,” the statement signed by Francis Palmdeti, Head, Corporate Affairs, explained.