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With the cancellation of the December 2020 parliamentary election in the Assin North Constituency, the two major parties — the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) — have declared their readiness to contest the by-election.
While the National Chairman of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, was certain that the party would win any election held any day in the Assin North Constituency, for which reason it was notworried about a fresh election being held there, the Communications Director of the NPP, Mr Yaw Boaben Asamoah, indicated that the party was battle ready to contest the by-election and take back the seat.
Meanwhile, the NDC has vowed to use every available legal means to ensure the reversal of the cancellation of the parliamentary election in the constituency.
Yesterday, the Cape Coast High Court ordered a fresh parliamentary election to be held in the constituency after it cancelled the 2020 parliamentary election in the constituency, which was won by the NDC candidate, Mr James Gyakye Quayson.
That was after the court, presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye, had upheld a petition challenging the election of the MP on the grounds that he had filed his nomination to contest as a parliamentary candidate when he was still a Canadian citizen.
The court awarded costs of GH¢30,000 against the MP in favour of the petitioner, Mr Michael Ankomah-Nimfa, and GH¢10,000 in favour of the second respondent, the Electoral Commission, to make up for the time wasted and the processes they had gone through.
However, in its reaction to the ruling, the NDC described the decision as a travesty of justice and declared its intention to pursue all legal means to reverse the decision.
The Minority in Parliament, the NDC leadership and Mr Quayson’s legal team were unanimous in their verdict that the judge had erred in his ruling.
Justice Boakye said Mr Quayson violated constitutional provisions and other statutory provisions that guided the country’s elections.
Delivering the over one-hour ruling, with reference to relevant laws, including international laws, Justice Boakye said it would be a bad precedent if he overlooked the glaring evidence and the legal issues raised during proceedings.
There was some security presence om the court premises yesterday.
But there was no nasty incident, as calm prevailed.
The case of the petitioner, who is a resident of Assin North, was that when Mr Quayson was filing his nomination to contest as a parliamentary candidate, he was still a Canadian citizen, which 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).
Among other reliefs, the applicant wanted the Cape Coast High Court to declare the nomination filed by Mr Quayson as “illegal, void and of no legal effect”.
NDC legal team disappointed
Speaking on behalf of the NDC legal team after the ruling, Mr Alex Segbefia said the team was disappointed by the ruling.
He said it would look at the ruling closely and react at the appropriate time.
Mr Segbefia said the team was obviously frustrated by the legal processes which put impediments in its way as it made efforts to file a motion to halt the process until it had sought proper interpretation of Article 94 (2) of the Constitution before the ruling.
Speaking to the media after the ruling, Mr Ofosu Ampofo said the NDC leadership would meet with the legal team to decide on the next line of action.
Views from Parliament
Stating its position on the ruling, the Minority in Parliament said it would contest the ruling, reports Nana Konadu Agyeman.
Addressing the press in Parliament, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said: “The judge erred both in law and in facts; it is a travesty of justice; we do not want to believe that the courts of Ghana have been captured and that the courts of Ghana become forums being used surreptitiously to tilt the balance of power.”
He said Mr Quayson won the 2020 parliamentary election in Assin North outright as a citizen born and bred in that community prior to leaving for Canada.
He said the MP subsequently renowned his Canadian citizenship as far back as 2019 and got his renunciation certificate before the parliamentary election.
“Justice must not only be done but must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done,” he said.
Reacting, the Majority Chief Whip, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, said the Majority had been vindicated with regard to its challenge of Mr Quayson’s eligibility to participate in the election of the Speaker on January 7, 2021, prior to current MPs being sworn in.
He said the Majority had cautioned the House about the implication for Mr Quayson to sit in and be part of the election of the Speaker on that day.
He described the suggestion by the Minority Leader that there was external influence in the decision of the court as “totally flawed and should be rejected”.
NPP legal team hails ruling
A member of the NPP legal team, Mr Henry Nana Boakye, said the court’s ruling had upheld the petitioner’s position that Mr Quayson did not do due diligence.
He said the judgement was elaborate and “a victory for the rule of law”.
He said the NDC’s claim that the NPP was using technicalities to take away the seat was uncalled for.
“We only sought redress using constitutional means. The laws of the land have been very clear on this; we stated our case forcefully and supported it with evidence,” he said.
Mr Boakye said the NDC’s claim that the ruling would thwart the sovereign will of Assin North was false and malicious, saying it was the rule of law that had prevailed.
Also commenting on the decision, Mr Buabeng-Asamoah told the Daily Graphic that the annulment of the election was a vindication of the position of the party.
Meanwhile, the Central Regional Secretary of the NPP, Mr Richard Takyi-Mensah, has petitioned the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to conduct “criminal investigations” into allegations of wilful falsehood against Mr Quayson.
He accused the former MP of lying under oath when he signed his nomination forms to contest as a parliamentary candidate when the Electoral Commission opened nominations between October 5 and October 9, 2020.
Part of his petition reads: “As part of the nomination forms, Mr James Gyakye Quayson appended his signature before a judicial officer that he did not owe allegiance to any country other than Ghana, at the time when he was fully aware that, as a matter of fact, he owed allegiance to Canada at that material time of making the statutory declaration.”