James Quayson’s election as MP for Assin North unconstitutional - Supreme Court rules
James Quayson’s election as MP for Assin North unconstitutional - Supreme Court rules

James Quayson’s election as MP for Assin North unconstitutional - Supreme Court rules

The Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional the election of James Gyakye Quayson as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin North in the Central Region,

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In a unanimous decision Wednesday morning (May 17, 2023), a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court ordered Parliament to expunge the name of Mr Quayson as MP, reports Graphic Online’s Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson from the court.

It was the considered view of the court that the election of Mr Quayson breached Article 94(2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution because at the time he filed to contest the elections he was not qualified to be elected as a legislator since he had not renounced his dual citizenship 

The court therefore declared Mr Quayson filling to contest, the EC’s decision to allow him to contest as well as his swearing-in as MP in Parliament as all unconstitutional, null and void.

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

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

Related: Why Supreme Court ordered James Gyakye Quayson to stop holding himself as MP [FULL RULING]

Plaintiff’s case against James Gyakye Quayson

In July 2021, Mr Michael Ankomah-Nimfah  , a constituent of Assin -North 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 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 parade himself as an 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.

The Supreme Court in April 2022 ordered the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson, to stop holding himself as an MP until the determination of a suit challenging the constitutionality of his election.

In a 5-2 majority decision on April 13, 2022, the apex court ordered Mr Quayson to abstain from any Parliamentary business and also refrain from engaging in activities pertaining to an MP.

Reasons

In its ruling, the Supreme Court was of the considered view that the High Court in Cape Coast has declared the election of Mr Quayson as null and void, and therefore allowing him to continue as an MP while the constitutional issue was yet to be determined “will be an indictment of the administration of justice.”

“There can be no justification for ignoring the submissions on the continued disregard of the orders of the High Court which have not been suspended or overturned,” the court held.

Also, the court held that the whole country would suffer greater hardship if Mr Quayson was allowed to continue to serve as an MP and the court determines that his election violated the 1992 Constitution.

“This court will be failing in its exclusive mandate and duty to the Ghanaian people to uphold and defend the Constitution if it does not suspend, mitigate or abate an alleged constitutionality illegality if the applicant were to succeed in the end of this suit,” the court held.

The majority decision was authored by Justice Kulendi.

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In the dissenting opinions, Justice Dordzie and Amegatcher were of the view that the Supreme Court was not the right forum for the applicant, and that all he needed to do was to enforce the judgment of the High Court.

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 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 parade himself as an MP.

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Mr Ankomah-Nimfah is seeking 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 wants 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 is urging 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.

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