Lawyers for Assin North MP, James Gyakye Quayson, have urged the Supreme Court not to deny the people of Assin North a Member of Parliament (MP) even on an interim basis.
The legal team, comprising Tsatsu Tsikata and Justin Teriwajah, say forum shopping and manipulation of judicial process cannot be a justification for the ousting of an individual who contested and won an election after gaining 54.19% of valid votes cast.
Mr Quayson in a document filed at the Supreme Court, asked the judges see the petition as frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of court processes and in bad faith describing the petitioner’s case as “blatant forum shopping” and should not be countenanced by the Supreme Court.
The court will on today, Wednesday, April 13 deliver a major ruling.
It is a ruling on an application filed by a resident of the constituency, Michael Ankomah Nimfah, a known member of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) urging the court to restrain the legislator from performing parliamentary duties.
A Cape Coast High Court in July, 2021, nullified the election of Mr. Quayson after it found that he owed allegiance to Canada at the time of filing his nomination forms to contest the polls.
Mr Nimfah, who is being defended by the Frank Davies, who is the New Patriotic Party (NPP)’s Legal Committee Chairman, – with support from the Attorney General Godfred Dame and Electoral Commission – filed this election petition, in January, 2022 initiated another action at the Supreme Court.
He urged the court to give effect to the Cape Coast High Court Judgement and prevent a further breach of the Constitution by restraining the MP.
But lawyers for the MP disagree and contend that prior to the election, the eligibility of Mr. Quayson was challenged but the Electoral Commission cleared the MP to contest the polls.
They recount that the matter ended up at the High Court with the court nullifying the polls.
They, however, say that the Cape Coast High Court erred in reaching this conclusion as it should have referred relevant portions of the Constitution to the Supreme Court for interpretation.
The lawyers say that at each stage of the case, be it at the High Court or the subsequent Appeal at the Court of Appeal, Mr Nimfah’s lawyers insisted no issues of interpretation arise.
They argue that in the substantive case accompanying the request to restrain the legislator, Mr Nimfah’s lawyers nonetheless concede that an issue of interpretation arises.
This they say will mean the Supreme Court would have to speak on the matter after which the case will be sent back to the High Court.
“That the Supreme Court cannot proceed with the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff based on mere and unverified allegations of his owing allegiance to a country other than Ghana.
“That it would be denying the people of Assin North their right of representation in the 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic if the Supreme Court were to grant the reliefs sought by the Plaintiff even on an interim basis.
The Plaintiff ought not to be allowed in forum shopping and sheer manipulation of judicial process to turn justice on its head.”
“This court should, with respect, not allow any litigant to act in such bad faith and engage in blatant forum shopping in instituting a new action for the determination of a matter already before another panel of this Court and also pending before other lower courts. The Plaintiff, while urging the panel of the Supreme Court before whom 1st Defendant’s application to quash the decision of the Court of Appeal, Cape Coast, and for the Supreme Court to refer to itself the interpretation of Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution was pending, rot to make the reference, issues a new writ to be put before another panel of the court.”
The embattled legislator argued that the new writ seeks to obtain what is already pending before another panel of the Supreme Court.
“This is unacceptable forum shopping, and it would set a dangerous precedent if such conduct should be countenanced by this court. The writ filed invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is simply an abuse of the process of court. Plaintiff is not engaged in a genuine quest for an authoritative interpretation from this court of a constitutional provision. Rather, under the guise of an invocation of the original jurisdiction of this court he is seeking reliefs which are the subject matter of the pending suits in the lower courts, as well as this court. What Plaintiff is seeking in the election petition that he instituted against the 1st Defendant is clearly the process that this court ought to have him continue pursuing as against this new suit,” Mr Quayson added in the statement of case dated April 12, 2022.
Recently Prof. Kwaku Asare Azar described the case against the Assin North MP, as part of political savagery in the country and urged the courts to do better because to help the nation “do better”.
In his latest write up, Prof. Kwaku Azar insisted that “the case against the Assin North MP is not that he is a dual citizen” but how long it took for the renunciation of his Canadian citizenship to be accepted by the Canadian authorities ahead of his participation in December 2020 parliamentary elections.
According to the US-based accounting lecturer and lawyer, “the undisputed facts are that he filed for the renunciation of his Canadian citizenship in December 2019, a full year ahead of the 2020 general elections. The processing of the application was delayed by the pandemic but was granted in November 2020. It normally takes 3 months”.
“The EC inspected his certificate of renunciation pursuant to a letter of 24 November 2020 and cleared him to run for his seat on December 7, 2020.
“He was elected on December 7, 2020 and duly sworn in as an MP on January 7, 2020.
So the case against him is that he did not compel the Canadian officials to process his renunciation application quickly enough such that even if the renunciation became effective before the elections and was accepted by the EC, he must be forced to vacate his post for a bye-election that he is fully eligible to compete in.
“I cannot support this line of reasoning and I reject it.
What is the law that is being used to take his seat from him? It is Article 94(2)(a).
That law says that “a person shall not be qualified to be a Member of Parliament if he owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana.”
“Notice that this law does not talk about dual citizenship. However, that is a complex issue, for the current purpose, so let us assume it does.
“The law does not say anything about when this disqualification applies. Is it at the time of filing for party primary, national election, voting day, or on the first day of Parliament?
“The answer is provided by PNDCL 284(20)(d), which reminds us that voters’ wishes must be respected and the ground for cancelling an election results is “that the candidate was at the time of his election a person not qualified or a person disqualified for election.”
“So the only question to ask is that on December 7, 2020, at the time of his election, had he applied to renounce (the subjective test) or if you want to use an objective test had his renunciation become effective?
“How difficult is this to figure out? Did this same court system not answer an analogous question in the Dr Zanetor case not too long ago?
“The EC reviewed the Assin North MPs papers, including his renunciation certificate, and applied the law to say he is qualified.
“Why is this call by the EC not subject to the usual deference that the Courts give to the EC in these matters?
“Those who want to disqualify him and apparently the courts have set aside section 20(d) of PNDCL 284 and inserted their own deadline in article 94(2)(a).
“We must do better as a nation! There is just too much political savagery. And the courts must do much better!!
“Is it now the law that the time that Canada acts decide who qualifies to be an MP? Will he be permanently barred if Canada had passed a law that it no longer allows renunciation?
“GOGO is saddened at the extent that we go to ruin bona fide Ghanafuo.
*SALL* is the cardinal sin of the 8th Parliament.