Ghanaian News

Assin North trial: high court to rule on variation of timelines in Quayson case on 23 June

The Accra high court, presided over by Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh, has deferred its ruling to Friday 23 June 2023 on a motion moved by lawyers for James Gyakye Quayson, the former MP for Assin North, seeking to vary the timelines set by the court for the trial.

Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh’s court also decided to dispense with James Gyakye Quayson’s presence when it constitutes on Friday to deliver its ruling on the application filed by Quayson’s lawyers.

Moving his application for the embattled former National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP, Tsatsu Tsikata, the lead counsel for the respondent, told the high court that his client will be standing in the Assin North by-election on 27 June.

He described it as a national assignment.

For this reason, Tsikata argued, the court’s decision to hear the case every day will hinder his client’s ability to participate effectively in the by-election.

AG’s contention
The Attorney General (AG), Godfred Yeboah Dame, opposed the application by lawyers for Quayson. He argued that the application is unknown to the rules of court and is therefore totally incompetent.

The AG supported his argument by citing Sections 168 and 169 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1960 (Act 30). He signalled the importance of Section 168, which is titled “Appearance of both Act parties”. The xxxx states: “Where at the time appointed for the hearing of the case both the prosecutor and the accused are present before the Court, or if the prosecutor appears personally or by counsel and the personal attendance of the accused person has been dispensed with under section 70, the Court shall proceed to hear the case”.

Section 169, which is on “adjournment”, states that; “Before or during the hearing of a case, the Court, a) may adjourn the hearing to a certain time and place to be then appointed and stated in the presence and hearing of the parties or their respective counsel then present, and;

b) In the meantime, may suffer the accused to go at large, or may commit the accused to prison, or may release the accused on the entry into a bond with or without sureties, conditioned for the accused person’s appearance at the time and place to which the hearing or further hearing is adjourned.

On the basis of these provisions, the AG urged that the Criminal Procedure Act gives the Court the power to decide the venue, time and date for court sittings and no other person or authority has the power to do same and to change it.

After hearing the arguments of the parties, the court decided to deliver its ruling on Friday 23 June. The court also said that it will go ahead to do so without the accused person need the in court.

AG on court’s ruling
After the court sitting, deputy attorney general, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah told the media that the court has given its verdict and the AG’s department will abide by the decision.

He added that he is certain the decision of the court on Friday will be on the side of the law.

This is what the AG argued about, as opposed to the emotional sentiments expressed by the lawyer for the accused, James Gyakye Quayson.

NDC reaction to court
Speaking after the hearing, Abraham Amaliba, the director of legal affairs of the NDC, told journalists that the court’s decision to dispense with the presence of the accused, James Gyakye Quayson, is a victory for the NDC.

He added that the accused, James Gyakye Quayson, who is the candidate for the NDC in the Assin North by-election, will go to the constituency to campaign in the lead-up to the vote, which takes place on Tuesday 27 June 2023.

The accused
James Gyakye Quayson took advantage of the huge media presence and predicted in an interview that he will win the Assin North by-election with a bigger margin than he did the 2020 parliamentary election.

It was the last general election that first brought him to Parliament.

Quayson, in spite of a high court judgment declaring his election as an MP in the 2020 election unconstitutional, continued to hold himself as a Member of Parliament and was seen attending sittings of the House and carrying out parliamentary duties.

Displeased with his actions, the petitioner in the high court action, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, a resident of Assin North, filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking an order to injunct Quayson.

He also sought an interpretation of Article 94 (2a) of the 1992 constitution of the republic, which states that “a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he – (a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana”.

The injunction order of the Supreme Court will remain in force until the final determination of the application seeking interpretation of Article 94 (2a). The Cape Coast high court restrained Quayson from holding himself as the MP for Assin North on the NDC ticket.

On Wednesday 28 July 2021, Justice Kwasi Boakye also ordered those fresh parliamentary elections be held in the constituency. This followed a parliamentary election petition, brought by Michael Ankomah-Nimfah to the Cape Coast high court, seeking to annul the MP’s election.

Quayson polled 17,498 votes, against 14,793 for the New Patriotic Party’s Abena Durowaa Mensah, in the 7 December 2020 parliamentary election.

On 30 December 2020, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah filed a parliamentary election petition at the Cape Coast high court, challenging Quayson’s eligibility to be an MP.

He argued that the MP was not eligible because, at the time he (Quayson) filed his nomination to stand as a parliamentary candidate, he was still a citizen of Canada.

The act of filing, he argued, was against the express provisions of Article 94 (2a) of the 1992 constitution and Section 9(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284).

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