Minority to fight ruling nullifying Assin North parliamentary polls

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The Minority in Parliament says it will soon file a legal challenge to appeal the decision of the Cape Coast High Court that nullified the 2020 Assin North parliamentary election.

The caucus is of the view that the Presiding Judge in the case erred in law and fact.

On Wednesday, July 28, 2021, the High Court in Cape Coast held among others ruled that James Gyakye Quayson cannot continue to hold himself as MP for Assin North because at the time he filed to contest the election, he held Canadian citizenship, thus breaching provisions governing elections in Ghana.

The court, therefore, cancelled December 7, 2020, parliamentary polls held in Assin North and ordered for the elections to be conducted afresh.

“The court hereby cancels the parliamentary elections in the Assin North constituency organised in December 2020 and further orders the Electoral Commission to conduct fresh parliamentary elections in the Assin North constituency as such.”

The court also perpetually retrained Mr. Quayson “from holding himself out as Member of Parliament-elect for Assin North constituency and or presenting himself to be sworn in as a Member of Parliament.”

This ruling was given by the court presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye.

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.

But speaking to the media in Parliament on the latest development, Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu described the judgment simply as a travesty of justice.

“We in the Minority remain unshaken. We remain confident that it is our seat, and it will remain our seat. Ours is to use the same legal means and opportunities within the constitution. We’ll contest the ruling. The judge erred in law and fact. It is a travesty of justice.”

“We are of the firm belief that the judge erred in law, and we will prove that but what is important is that justice must be seen to be working and there must be strict application of the law,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Central Regional Secretary of the governing New Patriotic Party, Richard Takyi Mensah, has also filed a fresh criminal case against Mr. Gyakye Quayson, who can no longer hold himself as the MP for Assin North.

The complaint filed at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service is to investigate his participation in a number of unlawful activities, including his participation in the election of the Speaker of Parliament, although the High Court had barred Mr. Quayson from holding himself as an MP at the time.

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 asking the court 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 2020, 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.”

The Adama Sakande case

Recent history has seen a former Member of Parliament jailed for a similar offence.

In 2012, the Accra Fast Track High Court sentenced the NPP’s Adamu Dramani Sakande to two years imprisonment after he was found guilty of false declaration of office, perjury, and deceit of a public officer.

His status as the MP for Bawku Central was challenged due to his dual citizenship.

Adamu Sakande contested the Bawku Central seat on the ticket of the NPP in the 2008 election and snatched the seat from Mahama Ayariga before he was jailed.

He was granted a presidential pardon on December 31, 2012, by the then President, John Dramani Mahama, based on medical grounds, but died a few years later.

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