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I won’t declare Assin North seat vacant, says Speaker Alban Bagbin

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, has served notice that he is not ready to declare the Assin North Constituency seat vacant despite the 28 July 2021 express order of the Cape Coast High Court that annulled the 2020 Parliamentary election in that constituency.

The position of the Speaker is contained in a letter addressed to the Registrar of the General Jurisdiction Court, Law Court Complex, Accra and signed by the Clerk to Parliament, Cyril K.O. Nsiah, acknowledging service of the court order on the Speaker of Parliament.

Speakers rational
The basis for the Speaker’s decision according to the letter is that, “prior to the receipt of this process, Mr. Speaker had received certified true copies of documents from the lawyers of James Quayson, Member of Parliament for the Assin North Constituency filed in respect of an appeal against the judgment of the High Court, Cape Coast and an application for the Stay of Execution of the said judgment of the High Court, Cape Coast”.

“On the face of the certified true copies received by Mr. Speaker, the matter in question is still sub-judice and has thus not been concluded by the Courts with competent jurisdiction on the matter. In the circumstances, Mr. Speaker is not clothed with the legal basis to make a pronouncement on the matter and can thus not declare the occurrence of a vacancy in the House pursuant to the 1992 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House,” the Clerk to Parliament’s letter read.

Cape Coast High Court
The Cape Coast High Court in its judgement in the matter of the Election Petition of Michael Ankomah-Nimfah vrs. James Quayson, Member of Parliament for the Assin North Constituency restrained James Gyakye Quayson from holding himself as the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Assin North.

Election petition
On 30 December 2020, a resident of Assin North, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, filed a parliamentary election petition at the Cape Coast High Court challenging Quayson’s eligibility to be a Member of Parliament.
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.

Such an act, he argued, was against the express provision of Article 94 (2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 9(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284).

Reliefs sought
Among other reliefs, the applicant wanted the Cape Coast High Court to declare the nomination filed by Quayson “illegal, void and of no legal effect”.

He also sought a declaration that the EC’s decision to clear Quayson to run as a parliamentary candidate was “illegal, void and of no legal effect”.

Another relief the applicant sought was an order restraining Quayson from holding himself out as the MP-elect for Assin North and another order cancelling the parliamentary election that took place in Assin North on 7 December 2020.

Court injunction
On 6 January this year, Justice Boakye issued an interlocutory injunction against Quayson restraining him from holding himself as the MP-elect until the final determination of the election petition. This in effect barred the MP from being sworn in.

Quayson showed up in Parliament the same day to vote in the election to select the Speaker of Parliament, and for him (Quayson) to be sworn into office as MP.

The Clerk to Parliament initially refused to allow him to take part in the election, but the NDC parliamentary leadership argued that Quayson had not been served with the court order and was, therefore, not aware of any injunction restraining him from holding himself as the MP-elect.

After many arguments, the Clerk to Parliament allowed Quayson to vote and also to be sworn into office, with the caution that he (Quayson) would bear the consequences of that action.

The Cape Coast High Court also overruled an objection by lawyers for Quayson, seeking to have the Presiding Judge, Justice Kwasi Boakye, recuse himself from the case which sought to annul the MP’s election.

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

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