By Justice Offei
I was in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 1997, when our former big black passport was declared invalid by the Ghana government, and were asked to contact the embassy to procure the new smaller ones. A time frame was given, within which everybody had to get the new passport, after which the old ones will be invalidated.
Again, these small black passports have now been replaced with the bio-metric ones; here too, a time frame within which every citizen must secure a new passport was given, and after the period had elapsed, the old ones became invalid.
Now, in both cases, there was no argument that those who held the old passports (big and small black ones) could still travel with them as valid document after the introduction of the bio-metric ones, because that edition of passports were acquired at the time when both the big black and small passports were valid documents, and that, the legally laid-down pre-requisites to obtain them were strictly followed.
Juxtaposing the above-enumerated examples with the current calls for a new voters’ register for the 2016 elections in order for a level playing-field to be laid, and the line of totally absurd line of argument the NDC propagandists are shamelessly propounding, by suddenly transmogrifying into spokespersons for EC, and vehemently kicking against this noble call by true patriots of our dear nation, indeed, gives one a great cause to worry.
The NDC people, led by Johnson Asiedu Nketia,are claiming this call for a new voters’ register is not necessary and totally groundless because “those who used NHIS card as the form of national ID to have their names captured onto the voters’ register, cannot have their names expunged from the register and therefore prevented from taking part in election-2016,as has been duly pronounced by the supreme court,because,these people had their names captured onto the register, at the time the NHIS card was a legitimate pre-requisite.
Again, the NDC people are arguing that if the names of those who registered with NHIS card are taken off the register and prevented from partaking in election-2016, it will amount to “retroactive effect” of the recent Supreme Court ruling, which is frown upon by the constitution, and therefore, they must be allowed to remain on the register with voting rights in 2016, since the NHIS card was a legally acceptable form of ID for the registration.
There have also been periodic issuance of new currency notes which has invalidated the old existing ones. So by the logic these NDC folks are advancing; it is perfectly legitimate for the good people of this country to still travel on the big and small old black passports, since they were legitimately acquired at the time, and that, declaring them invalid with the new law introducing the bio-metric type, is tantamount to “retro-activity”.
Similarly, this kind of logic by NDC, is equally tantamount to the right of Ghanaians being allowed to continue using all our old currency notes, since the days of Don Diego d’Azambuja, because we earned them legitimately before the issuance of new currency notes since declaring them invalid would be tantamount to “retro-activity” of the law.
“Retro activity” of a law simply means it has had an effect on an even which has taken place before its promulgation. But in the case of the Supreme Court ruling on illegitimacy of the NHIS card as an acceptable form of national ID to enable one to be captured onto the voters’ register, its RETROACTIVE effect would have been the total cancellation of the 2012 general elections, during which those who registered with NHIS card participated.
But rather, the supreme court ruling on the NHIS card as illegitimate form of ID acceptable during voter registration, is rather futuristic.so going into election-2016, the legitimacy of those captured onto the voters’ register with NHIS as the form of national ID, have had their once right to be on the register, completely nullified, and therefore must be removed from the register.
Effectively, the voters’ register, in its current form, contains millions of totally illegitimate registrants, per the recent Supreme Court ruling. But because it is almost impossible to effectively identify such list and fittingly delete them, the sensible option is to compile a new register, since the time and resources required to extricate such illegitimate people from the legitimate ones, on the register, definitely wouldn’t be any different.
So I ask;
1. Do these NDC people have their heads properly screwed-on?
2. Do these NDC people have a clue as to exactly what is “retro-activity” of a law?
3. What exactly are these NDC people afraid of, in a new voters’ register?