(NCRA, Wednesday 14 April,2021)- The Director -General of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI has held a one-day orientation meeting with members of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) and Heads of Religious Bodies on Civil Registration, Legal Identity and Marriage Registration at the Buxton Memorial Church Hall on Charles Street, Freetown.
In attendance were the President and the Leadership of the Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone, His Grace Archbishop Dr. Edward Tamba Charles, the Secretary General (IRCSL), Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah, Sheik Abubakarr Conteh, Chairman Inter-Religious Council and other religious heads within the Western Urban and Rural Districts of Freetown.
In his welcome address, the Director-General of the NCRA expressed his appreciation to participants for answering to such an important call.
The DG said the essence of the meeting was to collaborate with the Inter-Religious Council in the management of vital events that the NCRA was mandated by law execute throughout Sierra Leone.
“We cannot succeed without the collaboration of the Inter-Religious Council, they play a critical role in every vital event that occurs in a person’s life,” the DG stated.
He further stated that the role of the Inter-Religious Council in the work of the NCRA cannot be overemphasized; noting that the Religious Leaders were powerful and respectable people in every society and that they had the authority to influence their followers or constituents.
Mr. MASSAQUOI also added that the fruitful engagement with Inter-Religious Council would give a clear path on the areas to collaborate and which measures to take in moving the process forward, in making sure that the government was accountable for every resident in the country.
The DG mentioned that the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NCRA and the Religious Council was a clear show of commitment on the side of the Inter-Religious Council in strengthening Civil Registration, Legal Identity and the registration of marriages in the country. He added that the MoU clearly spelt out how both institutions should collaborate and how the religious leaders refer the marriages they solemnize to the NCRA for registration.
Mr. MASSAQUOI announced that similar meetings with Inter-Religious Council and Heads of Religious bodies would be held in the four regions in the coming week.
Speaking on the relationship between Civil Registration and Religion, the Secretary General of Inter-Religious Council, Rev. Dr. Usman Jesse Fornah said that Inter-Religious Council was dubbed as the moral guarantor of peace in Sierra Leone considering their role played during the 11year civil war in the country. He said that registration was legal in the sight of God, as mentioned in specific chapters in both the Bible and the Quran. To support his claim, the Secretary General cited the book of Numbers in the Bible which talks about registration.
Rev. Dr Fornah said that the signing of the MoU signified that the Inter-Religious Council had entered into a single contractual marriage with the NCRA and by this “we are bound to support the activities of the NCRA.”
He intimated that NCRA thought it fit to engage them due to the fact that they as Religious Leaders have the responsibility to solemnize marriages in the country. He assured the DG of their commitment in ensuring that they refer all marriages they solemnize to the NCRA for registration as before now they had only been referring marriages to the office of the Administrator and Register General for registration.
In her presentation on the importance and relevance of CRVS the Identity Management, the Director of External Relations and Legal Affairs of the NCRA, Grace Herman said that this process is very much important as it establishes the legal document of a person, acknowledges a person’s existence before the law and supports gender equality. She added that the NCRA is mandated by law to carry out Civil Registration and account for every resident in Sierra Leone. She encouraged Religious Leaders present to take the message to their people by telling them the importance of CRVS and the benefits of registering their marriage with the NCRA.
Presenting on the Legal Mandate for Marriage Registration and the Role of Religious Leaders in Enhancing Civil Registration, Martha Lawalli, Deputy Director of External Relations and Legal Affairs of NCRA said that section 27(1) of the NCR Act gives the Authority the mandate and responsibility to conduct Civil Registration in Sierra Leone. She added that Religious Leaders should ensure that they refer married couples to the NCRA for the registration of their marriage.
Miss Lawalli mentioned that if NCRA is to succeed in achieving its goals especially in registering marriages, “the support and commitment of the Inter-Religious Council is a must.
A presentation on the steps/procedures for marriage registration was also done by Margret Massah Kamara, Senior Registration Officer, NCRA.
Sheik Abubakarr Conteh, Chairman, Inter-Religious Council commended the NCRA for holding such an important, educative and interactive meeting that is of national importance. He also said that the meeting has given them the opportunity to now refer all marriages they solemnized in their different dominion to the NCRA for registration. He added that this process will help reduce or minimize the fraudulent means of acquiring marriage certificates from Churches and Mosques. He appealed to the NCRA to continue their engagement with Religious Leaders especially on issues like these.
Participants at the meeting recommended the following to the NCRA:
That the term Mohammedanism in the NCRA Marriage Registration Form be removed as there is no religion with such a name; polygamous marriages should be included into the marriage registration form; flyers of marriage registration procedures should be sent to every church and mosque, and the use of religious radio stations to sensitize the public on the importance of marriage registration among others.
The Deputy-Director General of the NCRA, John Godswill Lavalie in his closing remarks thanked participants for giving their time to supporting the work of the NCRA in achieving such a national goal. He encouraged all to take what has been discussed to their constituents and to refer them to the NCRA for the registration of all vital events especially the registration of marriages.
The meeting was climaxed with an interactive question and answer session where further suggestions and ideas were brought out to inform prudent decisions of the NCRA in Civil Registration and Identity Management.
*IEC Directorate, NCRA*