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Assin North MP is a running unconstitutionality, says Godfred Dame

The Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame has described the status of the Assin North Member of Parliament (MP), James Gyakye Quayson as a running unconstitutionality that should be halted immediately.

This follows a 5-2 Majority Ruling by the Supreme Court barring the former Canadian citizen from holding himself out as an MP because of irregularities with his registration documents for election 2020.

A High Court in Cape Coast had earlier ruled on 28 July 2021 that James Gyakye Quayson’s election was void upon a true and proper reading of Article 94 (2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, which states unequivocally, that ‘a person shall not be a Member of Parliament if he owes allegiance to another country.’

The ‘Bogga MP’s’ election in the Assin North constituency was cancelled by the High Court in Cape Coast and a subsequent appeal at the Court of Appeal was also struck out for not complying with the rules of the Court of Appeal.

In spite of these legal handicaps, James Gyakye Quayson has been attending sessions in Parliament and has publicly claimed that he cannot be prevented from representing the people of Assin North in the Chamber.

“James Gyakye Quayson’s actions, are a running unconstitutionality that must be halted forthwith. A High Court cancels your election, and the Court of Appeal strikes out your appeal. There is thus no appeal pending and he has no legal legs to run on”.

“Yet he is always in Parliament. His conduct sins against the constitution in a most contemptible form. Every day, he attends Parliament, he engages in patent unconstitutionality,” said the Attorney General, Godfred Dame.

The 5-2 decision by the Supreme Court effectively stops Gyakye Quayson from attending parliamentary sittings and this may be the first step to a potential by-election in the area.

“Now the Electoral Commission must see their way clear. In my respectful view, with the determination by the High Court and with the decision of the Court of Appeal striking out the appeal, there is no inhibition in the way of the Electoral Commission. There is no impediment in the way of the Electoral Commission in declaring the Assin-North seat as vacant.”

“Indeed if it had not been for the legal gymnastics employed by lawyers of the Assin North MP, the Electoral Commission should have announced a by-election for the constituency by now. This ruling by the Supreme Court is consistent with other settled decisions by the highest court of the country in times past. It is settled law,” said Dame.

Michael Ankomah Ninfah, a voter in the Assin North Constituency filed a parliamentary election petition challenging the eligibility of Quayson to contest the election when his citizenship switch from Canada to Ghana had not been fully effected.

Counsel for the petitioner, Frank Davies who filed the interlocutory injunction at the Supreme Court, also led Ankomah’s triumph at both the High Court and the Court of Appeal. However, the interlocutory injunction application at the Supreme Court joined the Attorney General as a respondent.

“We knew this would turn out so because of the arguments we had put before the court. I am not clairvoyant. It’s just what the law is,” said Davies.

The National Democratic Congress and lawyers for Gyakye Quayson led by Tsatsu Tsikata say they disagree with the Supreme Court. Baba Jamal, the spokesperson for the team says they will take a decision on how to go forward after they have studied the ruling.

Five Justices of the Supreme Court, namely Justices Jones Dotse, Mariama Owusu, Professor Henrietta Mensa Bonsu, Getrude Torkonoo and Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi, granted the injunction while Justices Agnes Dordzie and Nene Amagathcher, dissented.

Meanwhile, the aspect of the case which has to do with the interpretation of Article 94 (2) (a) of the 1992 constitution, has been adjourned senidie.

The parties are however expected to file a joint memorandum of issues or separate issues if they fail to agree on the issues to set out for determination by the 25 April 2022. The registrar of the Supreme Court would then fix a substantive date for the next hearing.

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