Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, has summoned the Local Government Minister and the management of the Births and Deaths Registry, following the latter’s decision to blacklist some indigenous names from being registered in the country.
Persons who wish to register names such as Nana, Naa, Junior among others, have been turned away in recent times by the Births and Deaths Registry with a reason that such names are considered as titles.
The Ministry was summoned after the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, put forward a request, while questioning the Births and Deaths Registry’s power to issue and apply such directives.
Making his case before the House, Mr. Iddrisu said: “I have with me here, the Daily Heritage newspaper with a caption headline, Ghanaians angry over ban on names such as Nana, Nii, Maame, Junior…I am raising this so that this house will summon the Minister for Local Government and the management of the Births and Deaths Registry to explain to this House where the source of their power is.”
‘Blacklisting names illegal’
The Births and Deaths Registry’s decision has been widely criticized by Ghanaians, including Legal Practitioner, Ace Ankomah who has described the move as illegal.
The Registrar at the Births and Deaths Registry, John Yao Agbeko, however justified the action, saying the law governing the Registry’s operations – Act 301 (1965), gives them the power to do so.
“There is a law that regulates the activities of the Births and Deaths registry, that law is the Births and Deaths Registration Act 301 of 1965. In this Act, we have a function for the Minister to do a regulation. In the regulation, there is a function for the Registrar to come out with a mode of operation.”
“…So even though you will not read it in the Act, the regulation allows the registrar to come out with the mode of operation to manage the place, and that is what we have done. That is why if you go to Tamale, the one over there will tell you that you cannot register that name. If you pick that same name and you run to Accra, in order to do same, you will be told you can’t do it,” he explained on the Citi Breakfast Show on Thursday.
But Ace Ankomah pointed out that what the Registry was doing “is not in the law, and it is also not in the regulation that was supposed to have been made under the 1965 Act.”
Occupy Ghana petitions AG over blacklisted names by Births and Deaths
Pressure Group, Occupy Ghana, has written to the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, to complain about the Births & Deaths Registry’s action.
Occupy Ghana in the letter argued that, the Registry’s action has no basis in law, and charged the Attorney General to take steps to address the issue since it is a gross violation of the rights of Ghanaians.
“We have however checked that Act and all relevant laws including the Regulations passed under the Act. We have not seen any provision that either supports this policy or gives the Registrars of Births and Deaths any power to refuse to register any name. We believe that this stance is a gross violation of the rights of Ghanaians to choose names (particularly Ghanaian names) as they deem fit for their children, subject to the right to change one’s name at any time later in life,” the letter said.
Occupy Ghana in the letter, which was also copied to the Local Government Minister, called on the Attorney General to order the Registry to stop such acts, else they will proceed to court within the next 30 days.
Marian Ansah & Duke Mensah Opoku