Accra, May 17, 2023 – In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has directed Ghana's Parliament to expunge the name of James Gyakye Quayson from its records as a Member of Parliament representing the Assin North constituency.
This ruling follows a judgment by the apex court, which upheld an application invoking the court's original jurisdiction to examine the constitutionality of James Gyakye Quayson's election. The plaintiff, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, had previously obtained a judgment at the High Court in Cape Coast, restraining Gyakye Quayson from assuming the role of an MP. The High Court ruled that as a Canadian citizen, he was ineligible to contest as a Member of Parliament in Ghana.
Ankomah-Nimfah, in invoking the court's original jurisdiction, sought relief based on the interpretation of Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 constitution. He argued that the decision to allow Gyakye Quayson to run in the 2020 elections and his subsequent election were null and void.
As a result of the Supreme Court's ruling by the seven-member panel, Gyakye Quayson is prohibited from holding himself as a Member of Parliament. Notably, he had been facing charges of deceit of a public officer, forgery of a passport, knowingly making a false statutory declaration, perjury, and false declaration.
On February 12, 2022, Gyakye Quayson filed an application to exclude the statement of the prosecution's first witness, but the High Court dismissed it. His subsequent application for certiorari to challenge the High Court's decision and a prohibition against the judge presiding over the case were also dismissed by the Supreme Court.
In response, Gyakye Quayson, through his lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata, has invoked the review jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn its earlier decision.
In November 2020, a group known as the “Concerned Citizens of Assin North” petitioned the Electoral Commission in the Central Region to withdraw Gyakye Quayson's candidature, arguing that he owed allegiance to Canada.
During the 2020 polls, James Gyakye Quayson, standing on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress, secured 17,498 votes (55.21%), while Abena Durowaa Mensah, the New Patriotic Party's candidate, received 14,193 votes (44.79%) in the Assin North constituency.
Following the election, Michael Ankomah-Nimfa, a teacher and resident of Yamoransa in the Central Region, filed a petition at the Cape Coast High Court, seeking to annul the declaration of Gyakye Quayson as the MP for Assin North. The Cape Coast High Court upheld Ankomah-Ninfa's request, declaring the 2020 parliamentary election in the Assin North Constituency null and void due to Gyakye Quayson's breach of the constitutional provisions regarding dual citizenship.
Gyakye Quayson subsequently appealed the judgment at the Court of Appeal in Cape Coast. However, the Supreme Court, in March 2020, unanimously dismissed his application to quash the Court of Appeal's decision and also rejected his request for a stay of appeal proceedings and referral of Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution to the Supreme Court for interpretation.
Former President John Dramani Mahama expressed concerns over the case, stating that the justice system had been unfair to the constituents of Assin North and Gyakye Quayson. He called for swift action to address the situation, highlighting the impact on parliamentary representation and public reactions.
Former President John Dramani Mahama expressed deep concern over the prolonged case, describing it as a blight on Ghana's justice system. During a recent tour of the Central Region, he emphasized the adverse effects of the delay on the people of Assin North and their representation in Parliament. Mahama called on the responsible parties to urgently address the situation and restore parliamentary representation to the constituency.
The removal of James Gyakye Quayson's name from Ghana's Parliament records has significant implications for both the Assin North constituency and the composition of Parliament. With Quayson's disqualification, the size of the Minority in Parliament is reduced by one vote, potentially affecting legislative dynamics and decision-making processes.
The ruling has sparked mixed reactions among the public. Supporters of Michael Ankomah-Nimfah and those who had contested Gyakye Quayson's eligibility applaud the Supreme Court's decision, viewing it as a validation of the constitutional requirements for holding public office. They believe that upholding the law is crucial to preserving the integrity of Ghana's democratic institutions.
On the other hand, some individuals sympathetic to Gyakye Quayson express disappointment and frustration. They argue that the protracted legal battle has deprived the constituents of Assin North of effective representation for an extended period. Concerns have been raised about the impact on local development and the ability to address the needs and aspirations of the constituency.
Meanwhile, James Gyakye Quayson's legal team, led by prominent lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata, has lodged a request for a review of the Supreme Court's decision. The outcome of this review will be closely watched, as it holds the potential to either uphold the court's ruling or introduce new complexities to the case.
As the legal proceedings continue, it remains to be seen how the political landscape in Assin North will evolve. The Electoral Commission may be required to organize a by-election to fill the vacant parliamentary seat if the Supreme Court upholds the decision to expunge Gyakye Quayson's name from the records.
The situation also raises broader questions about the need for clarity and strict adherence to constitutional provisions regarding dual citizenship and eligibility for public office. It serves as a reminder for political candidates to thoroughly review their citizenship status and qualifications before seeking elected positions to avoid legal challenges that can disrupt governance and representation.
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