By Jariatu S. Bangura
Speaker of Parliament, Dr. Abass C. Bundu, has called on the Acting Leader of the House to summon the Director General of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) at the next Parliamentary sittings to explain to members details of a public notice issued by his office on 20th February, 2020.
“Having read Section 33 and having seen and read the relevant portions of the public notice to which reference have been made, I do not believe that this issue should avert to controversy. I will therefore invite the acting leader to ensure that the DG of NCRA come to parliament at our next adjourned date and further the meeting to committee room for him to elaborate and elucidate on the public notice he had issued,” he said.
The Speaker was addressing Members of Parliament on Thursday after some lawmakers had described the move by the NCRA boss as illegal.
The Speaker added that when the NCRA DG would have explained to the law that gave him powers to do what he intends doing, “we shall move up to debate and I hope that satisfies y the house. Therefore, all those who came with draft in a form of a motion on the issue be kept for the hearing.”
Paragraph two of the Authority’s release informed the general public that only those whose details are in the Permanent Civil Register will be eligible to obtain biometric national identification cards and to vote in all public elections beginning with the 2022 local council election.
However, Hon. Dr. Mark Mahmoud Kalokoh of the All People’s Congress had stood on Section 33 of the 1991 Constitution, which gives the National Electoral Commission the mandate to register voters in any public elections; hence NCRA does not have such powers.
“The Section states that subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the Electoral Commission shall be responsible for the conduct and supervision of the registration of voters for, and of, all public elections and referenda; and for that purpose shall have power to make regulations by statutory instrument for the registration of voters, the conduct of Presidential, Parliamentary or Local Government elections and referenda, and other matters connected therewith, including regulations for voting by proxy”.
Hon. Kalokoh said the aforementioned release was undermining Section 33 of the 1991 Constitution and that it cannot be challenged in the court of law in case such is done.
The issue is set to be discussed on Thursday 5th March, 2020, when the Director General, Mohamed M. Masaquoi, is expected to come and provide better explanation to members.