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Speaker rules: I cannot declare Assin North seat vacant

The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin, says he cannot declare the Assin North Parliamentary seat vacant because the matter is currently a subject of appeal in court.

The Speaker made this known in a letter to the Registrar of the High Court, General Division, Accra, dated Friday, September 3, 2021, and signed by the Clerk of Parliament, Mr Cyril K. O. Nsiah.

It was also copied to the Registrar of the Cape High Court and the Judicial Secretary.

Reasons

The Speaker said on August 31, this year, he was served with a copy of the order of the Cape Coast High Court which declared the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin North, Mr James Quayson, as illegitimate to be the MP.

James Quayson

According to Mr Bagbin, prior to his receipt of the court process, he received copies of an appeal against the judgement of the Cape Coast High Court, and application of stay of execution of the said judgment from lawyers of Mr Quayson.

In view of that the Speaker said if he declared the Assin North seat vacant, he would be interfering in a matter that was still pending before the courts.

“That, on the face of the certified true copies received by the Speaker, the matter is still a question of subjudice and has thus not been concluded by the courts with competent jurisdiction on the matter.

That in the circumstances, Mr Speaker is not clothed with the legal basis to make a pronouncement on the matter and can thus not declare the occurrence of a vacancy in the House pursuant to the standing orders of the House,” the letter indicated.

Court ruling

On July 28, following a petition by an Assin North constituent, Mr Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, the Cape Coast High Court, declared the election of Mr Quayson as void on the basis that he owed allegiance to another country other than Ghana , which was contrary to Article 94(2) of the 1992 Constitution.

It was the considered view of the court that as at the time Mr Quayson filed to contest for the MP position, he had not renounced his Canadian citizenship, and therefore, he was not qualified to become a legislator.

The court presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye, ordered the Electoral Commission to organise a new election for the constituency.

It further awarded cost of GH¢30,000 against Mr Quayson and restrained him “perpetually from holding himself out as  Member of Parliament-elect or for Assin North Constituency and for presenting himself to be sworn in as a Member of Parliament.”

Appeal

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the High Court, Mr Quayson filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal on August 2, this year.

It is his contention that the High Court acted in excess of its jurisdiction when it failed to refer the case to the Supreme Court to interpret Article 94(2) of the 1992 Constitution, which was the subject matter of the petition.

He is, therefore, seeking a declaration from the second-highest court of the land that the Cape Coast High Court exceeded its jurisdiction and hence the judgment is void.

Mr Quayson also wants an order setting aside the judgement and the costs awarded by the court.

 

Source: Graphic.com.gh|Ghana

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