Court cancels 2020 Assin North parliamentary election, orders fresh polls

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The Cape Coast High Court in the Central Region has declared the 2020 parliamentary election held in the Assin North Constituency as null and void.

The court has therefore ordered for a fresh election to be conducted in the constituency.

This ruling was given on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, by the court presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye.

In his judgement, Justice Boakye upheld that, the National Democratic Congress’ 2020 parliamentary candidate for the constituency, Joe Gyakye Quayson breached the provisions of the 1992 Constitution with regard to dual citizenship.

The ruling means that the NDC’s seats in Parliament have dropped to 136 as against the NPP’s 137 until a by-election is held to determine who wins the seat.

The court also awarded a GHS30,000 cost against him in favour of the petitioner, Michael Ankomah-Nimfa and a further cost of GHS10,000 in favour of the Electoral Commission.

The judgement recommended that authorities involved in the petition; like Parliament, the Electoral Commission or the Rules of Court Committee come out with a law to ensure the expeditious disposal of such election disputes like was done for the Presidential election petition.

The court said this would do away with delays that characterize such disputes.

The orders of the court

In the court judgment, it was ordered that:

a. The filing of Parliamentary nomination forms by 1St Respondent when he held a Canadian Citizenship at the time of filing the said nomination forms between 5th–9th October 2020 with 2nd Respondent violates article 94. [2] [a] of the 1992 Constitution, section 9 [2] [a] of PNDC Law 284.

b. 2nd Respondent’s decision to clear 1st Respondent to contest the Parliamentary Elections in the Assin North Constituency when the latter was not qualified as a candidate on account of his. holding allegiance to Canada other than Ghana violates article 92 [2] [a] of the 1992 Constitution; section 9 [2] [a] of PNDCL 284, as amended and C.I. 127.

c. The decision by 2nd Respondent to allow 1St Respondent to contest Parliamentary Elections in the Assin North Constituency when he held a Canadian Citizenship at the time of filing his nomination forms violates the electoral laws of Ghana and same is of no legal consequence.

d. 1st Respondent’s election as Member of Parliament for Assin North Constituency in the 2020 Parliamentary Elections organized by 2nd Respondent is null and void and of no legal effect whatsoever as same violates the electoral laws of Ghana.

e. At the time of the Parliamentary Elections in the Assin North Constituency in 2020, 1St Respondent was not qualified to contest as a candidate in accordance with the electoral laws of Ghana.

Background

It would be recalled that after he was declared winner in the constituency’s election, Mr. Quayson was dragged to court by Michael Ankomah-Nimfa, a resident of Assin Bereku in the Central Region.

Mr. Akomah-Ninfa filed a petition at the Cape Coast High Court seeking to annul the declaration of Mr. James Gyakye Quayson as the Member of Parliament for the Assin North Constituency for owing allegiance to Canada.

In November last year, a group calling itself ‘Concerned Citizens of Assin North’ petitioned the Electoral Commission in the Central Region to withdraw the candidature of Mr. Quayson, arguing that he owes allegiance to Canada.

According to Article 94 (2) (a) of the 1992 constitution of Ghana, “A person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he or she – (a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana.”

The National Democratic Congress (NDC), had insisted that their MP is “a full citizen of Ghana who owes no allegiance whatsoever to any other country. He is a Ghanaian in law and, in fact, qualifies to be a Member of Parliament according to the laws of Ghana.”

One of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Henry Nana Boakye, briefing the media during an earlier hearing of the case, indicated that their request is supported by case evidence.

“One of the reliefs we are seeking is for the court to order for re-election to be conducted in Assin North. We have stated our case forcefully, and we have supported it with case evidence. We have even filed our closing addresses, and we are sure that the respondents will be served. All of these are just delay antics and just to drag the matter behind. But we are forthright and resolute that this matter will be determined, and it will be determined on the merit of the case; and based on the 1992 constitution and the relevant laws regarding the qualification of an aspirant to be a candidate or to be elected as a Member of Parliament,” he said.

Speaker’s election

Meanwhile, while in Parliament, Mr. Quayson participated in the voting that elected Alban Sumana Bagbin as Speaker, in spite of the lawsuit against his membership of the house.

The Clerk of Parliament had tried to prevent Mr. Quayson from taking part in the election of the Speaker of Parliament, at a the time when the the High Court had barred Mr. Quayson from holding himself as an MP and had written to Parliament to that effect.

But the members on the Minority side insisted that Mr. Quayson should be allowed to exercise his franchise and he was allowed.

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