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Court stops NDC MP-elect for Assin North from being sworn in

The court has granted an injunction stopping the NDC’s MP-elect for Assin North from taking the seat, because of a dual citizenship issue

The Cape Coast high court has granted an injunction restraining James Gyekye Quayson from holding himself as the NDC’s MP-elect for Assin North, because of suspicions that he violated dual citizenship rules.

This follows a petition against the MP-elect by one Michael Ankoma-Nimfah, a mason and resident of Assin Bereku.

Quayson is being accused of owing allegiance to Canada, contrary to Article 94 (1) (a) of the 1992 constitution.

According to Justice Kwadwo Boakye Tawiah, the issues raised against the MP-elect warrant full trial, hence he must stop describing himself as the incoming MP.

Renunciation

Even though, according to documents submitted to the court by his counsel, Abraham Amaliba, the MP-elect took steps to renounce his non-Ghanaian citizenship before filing his nomination, the lawyer for the petitioner, Frank Davis, argued that Quayson should have renounced his second citizenship fully before filing his forms to contest.

Moreover, he said, Quayson should have secured a certificate of renunciation before filing to contest the seat.

The MP-elect was granted a certificate of renunciation of Canadian citizenship on 27 November 2020.

The hearing at the Cape Coast high court to deliver judgment was packed with supporters of both the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP), amid heavy security.

The parties

Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, a mason and resident of Assin Bereku, in the Assin North constituency of the Central Region, petitioned the regional high court, essentially challenging the constitutionality of the election of the incoming MP for Assin North.

The respondents to the petition were James Quayson, otherwise known as James Gyakye Quayson (first respondent), and the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana (the second respondent).

Contention of the petitioner

According to the petition, on 5 October 2020 “the 2nd Respondent (EC), opened nominations for the filing of parliamentary forms by candidates who intended to contest the 2020 parliamentary elections at the offices of the Electoral Commission and the filing of nominations for parliamentary elections with 2nd Respondent closed on 9 October 2020.

“As part of the content of his nomination forms, 1st Respondent (MP-elect) solemnly declared that he is otherwise not disqualified from standing for elections by any law for the time being in force in Ghana.”

The petitioner avers that the first respondent held both Canadian and Ghanaian citizenship at the time of filing his nomination forms to contest the parliamentary election for Assin North, and that at the close of filing nomination forms for the Assin North parliamentary election with the second respondent on 9 October 2020, the first respondent had not renounced his Canadian citizenship.

“Your Petitioner will contend that the incidence of non-renunciation of the Canadian Citizenship by 1st Respondent prior to the filing of his parliamentary nomination forms with 2nd Respondent, renders 1st Respondent not qualified to contest for parliamentary elections in Ghana, and same offends Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution 1992, as he owed allegiance to Canada at the time of filing his nomination and any subsequent renunciation is of no legal effect whatsoever,” the petition said.

Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 constitution states: “A person shall not be qualified to be a Member of Parliament if he – (a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana.”

On the basis of the constitutional provision as stated, the petitioner further contends that not having renounced his Canadian citizenship at the time of filing his nomination forms with the Electoral Commission (the second respondent), the MP-elect (the first respondent) was not qualified to contest for election as a member of Parliament in the election for Assin North organised by the EC on 7 December 2020.

Reliefs sought by petitioner

The Assin Bereku mason therefore sought seven reliefs from the court.

First, a declaration that the filing of parliamentary nomination forms by the first respondent when he held Canadian citizenship, at the time of filing the said nomination form between 5 and 9 October 2020, violates Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana 1992, Section 9(2)(a) of the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284) as amended, as well as the Public Elections Regulations 2020 (CL 127), and the same is illegal, void and of no effect whatsoever.

Second, the petitioner sought a declaration that the decision by the second respondent to clear the first respondent to run for election to become the MP for Assin North when the first respondent was not qualified to be a candidate, on account of holding dual nationality, violates Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana 1992, Section 9(2)(a) of the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284) as amended, as well as the Public Elections Regulations 2020 (CI 127), and the same is void and of no effect whatsoever.

The third was a declaration that the decision by the second respondent to allow the first respondent to contest parliamentary elections in Assin North, when he held Canadian citizenship at the time of filing his nomination form, violated Article 94 (2)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana 1992, the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284) as amended, as well as the Public Elections Regulations 2020 (CL 127), and the same is illegal, void and of no effect whatsoever.

Among the remaining reliefs sought by the petitioner are a declaration that the first respondent’s election as the Member of Parliament for Assin North is null and void and of no effect whatsoever, as the same violates Article 94(2)(a) of Constitution of the Republic of Ghana 1992, Section 9(2)(a) of the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284) as amended, as well as the Public Elections Regulations 2020 (CI 127), being laws regulating parliamentary elections in Ghana, as well as a declaration that the first respondent at the time of the election in Assin North was not qualified to contest as a candidate for the constituency in accordance with the electoral laws for the time being in force in Ghana.

The petitioner further sought an order of the high court cancelling the parliamentary election in Assin North and further orders directed at the second respondent (the EC) to conduct fresh elections in Assin North. Lastly, he requested an order of perpetual injunction restraining the first respondent (the MP-elect) from holding himself out as the MP-elect for Assin North or presenting himself to be sworn in as a member of Parliament.

Listen to Gary Nimako Marfo, the lawyer for the petitioner, speaking after the verdict.

Kwaku Baah-Acheamfour

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online
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