Court annuls Assin North 2020 Parliamentary elections over dual citizenship

James Gyakye Quayson

A Cape Coast High Court presided by Justice Kwasi Boakye has cancelled the 2020 Assin North Constituency Parliamentary election results that elected James Gyakye Quayson as Member of Parliament (MP) and ordered fresh elections to be held.

Also, Quayson is to compensate the petitioner an amount of GH¢30,000 and the second respondent GH¢10,000 respectively.

The case against the MP, Quayson is that at the time he filed to contest the elections, he held dual nationality because he had not renounced his Canadian citizenship.

The petitioner contended further that at the close of nominations on October 9, 2020, the MP still held onto his Canadian nationality, he had not renounced it, and argued that the Assin North MP who still holds himself as MP did so in complete violation of Article 94 (2a) [A person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he
(a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana;], and the court should declare his election null and void.

In pronouncing judgment Wednesday July 28, 2021, the judge said the MP, Quayson violated constitutional provisions and other statutory provisions that guide Ghana’s elections.

The judge overruled the MP’s move to challenge the capacity of the petitioner to maintain an action against him. He said the petitioner had the capacity and the petition was competent.

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

The judge also noted that 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 were 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 Quayson.

The judge said the facts of the matter were not in doubt – that on December 17, 2019, the Assin North MP applied to renounce his Canadian citizenship. Between October 5 and 9, he filed to contest the Parliamentary elections. That he got his renunciation certificate on November 26, 2020.

The Assin North MP argued that the delay in getting his certificate was purely administrative and was occasioned by the two-month lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 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 invalidates 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 January 6, 2021, a resident of Assin North, Michael Ankomah Nimfah, applied for an interlocutory injunction to restrain Quayson from being sworn-in or holding himself as MP.

He contended that the MP-elect was not eligible on the basis that at the time he (Quayson) filed his nomination to contest as a parliamentary candidate, he was still a citizen of Canada.

The Act, he argued, 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 Quayson as “illegal, void and of no legal effect”.

By our reporters

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