The Fulani community in northern Ghana has made an appeal to Second Lady Samira Bawumia, who is also a Fulani, to help them take part in the ongoing Ghana Card registration exercise since they claim officials of the National Identification Authority are refusing to register them on the basis that they are aliens.
Mr Hamid Abukari, who had gone to one of the centres to vouch for his brother Umaro Abukari so he could register, said on Friday: “I came with my brother Umaro for him to register for the Ghana card. He has a birth certificate and a passport and I also have the same requirements including a Ghana Card which I acquired since December at Madina. So, I came to guarantee for him because I have been seeing it as the requirement”.
“But when I came, I was told I am a Fulani and all Fulanis are not Ghanaians and they confiscated my card and detained me and said they were calling the police to arrest me because I acquired it through illegal means”.
Commenting on the incident, the General Secretary of the Fulani Welfare Group, Alhaji Musah Yakubu Bari said: “Our Fulanis who have lived here for over seventy years, eighty years are being denied. This is a valid birth certificate, a valid passport of somebody and they’re being denied the National Identification Card. I don’t know why”.
Alhaji Musah called on the head of the National Identification Authority (NIA) to address the issue.
He wondered why the NIA officials are registering non-Fulanis who present the same documents but turning away Fulanis
“So, we want Ken Attafuah to come out and explain that thing to us. If only the Fulani birth certificate and the Ghanaian passport for Fulanis are invalid, he should come out and tell us”.
“Our forefathers were here long before independence, long before the Constitution. Then they should go and collect Samira’s card. If Samira [Bawumia] has a card and I’m being denied, it hurts. So, we’re calling on the office of the second lady; she should come out and speak about this issue”, Alhaji Musah demanded in an interview with Accra-based Joy FM.
Responding to the claims, a Deputy Commissioner of the NIA, Mr Francis Palm-deti explained on the station that: “You cannot vouch for anybody or an applicant if the applicant has all the requirements, so, if an applicant has a birth certificate or a valid passport, that applicant will not require a relative or two other persons to vouch for that person. So, I find it a bit strange that an individual is claiming that he was going to vouch for his brother who has all the requirements and then his ID card was taken from him”.
“If your relative has all the documents, is going to register and you’re following to vouch for that person, it doesn’t work that way. Once you have a birth certificate or a valid passport, you’ll go through the process”, Mr Pald-deti noted.
On the issue of Fulanis allegedly being turned away from the registration centres, Mr Palm-deti said: “We do not target any tribe or any group of persons for this registration”, adding: “It is a registration open to Ghanaians, all Ghanaians aged 15 years and above and who a Ghanaian is, is defined in our laws and it is clear. You must trace your citizenship to a parent or a grandparent”.
“Now on the issue of persons who were born prior to 1969”, Mr Palm-deti said: “In fact, before August 1969, all such persons will trace their citizenship by birth to a parent, they themselves must have been born in Ghana and they must trace their citizenship by birth to a parent or a grandparent or a great-grandparent who was also born in Ghana.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re not of Ghanaian origin, you can be Chinese, you can be Indian, you can be any other nationality; once you were born before 1969 in Ghana and a parent or a grandparent or a great-grandparent was also born before that date, you’re a Ghanaian, that’s what the law says.”
He also indicated that during the registration process for the Ghana Card, the applicants are asked certain questions, adding: “If, in filling the forms and the things you say suggest that you’re not a Ghanaian by virtue of the law, you will be told, and if you insist on the claim that you’re a Ghanaian, there’s a process, it’s called the Challenge Process; that process has to be followed.
“You would be given two forms; you send one of the forms to the chief of your village where you come from and the other form is given to you to send to the Assemblyman of your locality. When those forms are filled, they are attached to the registration form you filled and those documents are placed before a committee, the committee is called the District Registration Committee.
“NIA, on its own, cannot deny anybody registration, it is that body that will look at the issues and make a determination. If they say that individual is eligible, we’ll register the person, if that body says the person is not eligible, we will not register the person.”
Mr Palm-deti emphasised that the registration for the Ghana card does not target “any particular tribe or individual”.