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Friday, September 24, 2021

Bagbin cannot declare Assin North seat vacant – Clerk tells court –

The Clerk of Parliament, Cyril Nsiah, says Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, cannot declare the Assin North Parliamentary seat vacant.

This is in response to a letter written to Parliament by the Registrar of the General Jurisdiction Division of the Law Court Complex in Accra.

Mr Nsiah explained that prior to receiving the Registrar’s letter, the Speaker had received certified true copies of documents from the lawyers of James Quayson, Member of Parliament (MP) for the Constituency indicating that they had filed an appeal against the judgment of the High Court in Cape Coast.

This judgment, it would be recalled, annulled the Parliamentary polls of December 7, 2020, after it held that the MP owed allegiance to Canada at the time of filing to contest the polls.

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Mr Nsiah said the documents available to the Speaker give him no doubt to conclude that the matter remains pending in court.

The Speaker, he therefore said, does not have a legal basis to make a pronouncement on the matter aside from being unable to declare the seat vacant.

Read full letter below:

Bagbin cannot declare Assin North seat vacant - Clerk tells court
Bagbin cannot declare Assin North seat vacant - Clerk tells court

Background

The Cape Coast High Court on July 28 annulled the results of the 2020 Parliamentary Elections in the Assin North Constituency.

The Court, presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye, ordered for fresh elections to be conducted in the Constituency.

The case of the petitioner is that the MP, James Gyakye Quayson, at the time of filing to contest the 2020 Parliamentary Elections, had not renounced his Canadian citizenship and thus held dual nationality.

He further avers that at the close of nominations on the 9th of October, the Assin MP had still not renounced his Canadian nationality. He says James Gyakye Quayson, who still holds himself as the MP, is in complete violation of Article 94 (2a) thus the Court should declare his election null and void.

Handing his judgement on Wednesday, the judge said the MP, James Gyakye Quayson violated constitutional provisions and other statutory provisions that guide Ghana’s elections.

Judge’s ruling

On the capacity of the petitioner to maintain an action against the Assin North MP, the Judge said the petitioner had the capacity and the petition was competent. The judge, accordingly overruled the MP’s challenge of the petitioner’s capacity.

The Court explained that its jurisdiction could be invoked in an election petition when the EC conducts a parliamentary election and declares the results of the contest. Thus, he argued the Court’s jurisdiction was properly invoked.

The Independence of the EC in the conduct of elections is not in doubt and the Court won’t interfere in the operations of the EC unless an illegality and an unconstitutionality are being perpetrated by the EC.

He ruled that nothing precludes a petitioner from invoking the High Court’s original jurisdiction and, therefore, dismissed this challenge by James Gyakye Quayson.

The judge said the facts of the matter were not in doubt. That is on December 17, 2019, the Assin North MP applied to renounce his Canadian citizenship.

Between October 5th and 9th filed to contest the Parliamentary elections. That he got his renunciation certificate on November 26, 2020.

The argument of the Assin North MP was that the delay in getting his certificate was purely administrative and arose out of the two-month lockdown as a result of the pandemic.

To this, the Court said, based on the certificate the MP submitted in his affidavit in response to the petition, he only ceased to be a Canadian citizen on November 26, 2020, and not any period before or at the time of filing to contest the elections.

The court indicated that the evidence on the face of the certificate destroys the case of the Assin North MP.

“It would be a bad precedent and a cancerous tumour in Ghana’s legal jurisprudence. Thus, he ceased to be a Canadian citizen after November 26, 2020,” the judge said.

On the issue of whether or not the election of the Assin North MP is null and void, the judge said the MP violated the constitutional provisions and other statutory provisions that guide Ghana’s elections.

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