Frank Davies (left), counsel for the plaintif, congratulating his client, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah (2nd from left), after the case at the Supreme Court. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA
Frank Davies (left), counsel for the plaintif, congratulating his client, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah (2nd from left), after the case at the Supreme Court. Picture: ELVIS NII NOI DOWUONA

Gyakye Quayson no more MP "Supreme Court orders, Assin North seat vacant"

A by-election is imminent at Assin North in the Central Region following an order by the Supreme Court for Parliament to expunge the name of James Gyakye Quayson, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency, as a sitting MP.

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A seven-member panel of the apex court gave the order yesterday after it unanimously declared as unconstitutional, the election of Mr Quayson as MP in 2020.

“Parliament is ordered to expunge the name of first defendant (James Gyakye Quayson) as Member of Parliament for Assin North Constituency,” the court ruled.

Unconstitutional act

The court held that the whole process leading to the election of Mr Quayson – filing of nomination forms, election itself and swearing-in, were all  in violation of Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, which bars a person with dual citizenship from contesting as an MP.

It was the considered view of the court that as of the time Mr Quayson filed his nomination forms in October 2020 to contest for the Assin North seat, he had not renounced his Canadian citizenship and, therefore, was not qualified per Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution.

In view of that the court further held that the Electoral Commission (EC) also violated Article 94(2)(a) of the Constitution when it permitted Mr Quayson to contest the election.

“Upon the true and proper interpretation of Article 94(2)(a) the decision of second defendant [Electoral Commission] to permit the first defendant [James Gyakye Quayson] to contest the parliamentary election of Assin North when the first defendant had not shown evidence of the cancellation of his citizenship of Canada is an act which is inconsistent with and violates Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution,” the court held.

Consequently, the court declared that the election of Mr Quayson as well as his swearing-in as an MP was unconstitutional, null, void and of no legal effect.

“Upon a true and proper interpretation of 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, the election of the first defendant [James Gyakye Quayson] as Member of Parliament for Assin North was unconstitutional, null and void and of no legal effect.

“Upon the true and proper interpretation of Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, the swearing-in of first defendant [James Gyakye Quayson] as Member of Parliament of Assin North Constituency was unconstitutional, null and void and of no legal effect,” the court held.

The court gave the decision after a constituent of Assin North, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, invoked its jurisdiction to interpret and enforce the Constitution, with a case that Mr Quayson’s election was unconstitutional.

The seven-member panel of the court was presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, with Justices Nene Amegatcher, Mariama Owusu, Gertrude Torkornoo, Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi and Barbara Ackah-Ayensu as members.

The court said the full reasons for its decision would be filed at the court’s registry by June 7, this year. 

Plaintiff’s case

In July 2021, Mr Ankomah-Nimfah won a judgment at the Cape Coast High Court nullifying Mr Quayson’s election on the basis that the MP held Canadian citizenship at the time he filed to contest the seat.

He then went to the Supreme Court in January, this year for interpretation of Article 94 (2)(a), the same constitutional provision the High Court used to nullify Mr Quayson’s election.

His basis for going to the apex court was that despite the judgment by the High Court, Mr Quayson still continued to carry himself as MP.

Mr Ankomah-Nimfah sought a declaration from the Supreme Court that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, at the time the EC opened nominations for people to file to contest the Assin North parliamentary seat, Mr Quayson held a Canadian citizenship and, therefore, was not eligible to contest.

He further wanted the court to declare that the EC breached Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution when it allowed Mr Quayson to contest the parliamentary election in Assin North when he owed allegiance to another country.

Again, he urged the Supreme Court to declare the entire process that led to Mr Quayson’s election as MP for Assin North as unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void.

Background

Mr Quayson polled 17,498 votes, as against 14,793 by the New Patriotic Party's (NPP's) Abena Durowaa Mensah, in the December 7, 2020 parliamentary election.

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On December 30, 2020, Mr Ankomah-Nimfah filed a parliamentary election petition at the Cape Coast High Court challenging the eligibility of Mr Quayson to be an MP.

The court upheld the petition, and on July 28, 2021, declared Mr Quayson’s election as void on the basis that he owed allegiance to another country other than Ghana, contrary to Article 94(2) of the 1992 Constitution.

The court, presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye, ordered the EC to organise a new election in the constituency.

The MP filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Cape Coast, but on March 22, the second highest court of the land struck out the appeal for not being in compliance with the rules of court.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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