President John Mahama might be cited for contempt of court over the appointment of Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei as the Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson.
Lawyer Alexander Afenyo-Markin, who is representing Richard Dela Skyy in the suit in which the journalist wants the Supreme Court to interpret how the EC boss should be selected, said President John Mahama appeared to have disobeyed the highest court of the land.
‘When we raised an issue of imminent breach, the President, out of the blue, appointed Mrs Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei as the new EC Chair. That undermined the authority of the court.’
He later told journalists after the court’s sitting yesterday that he intended to initiate contempt proceedings against the President.
He said he made an oral application of contempt against Mr Mahama but the court presided over by Chief Justice Georgina Wood directed the Efutu MP to make a formal application, saying, ‘Take a proper course of action.’
Mr Afenyo-Markin’s contention was that between the time the case was last adjourned and yesterday, the President went ahead to appoint the EC boss.
Richard Dela Skyy
At the hearing yesterday, Dominic Ayineh, Deputy Attorney-General, said he was not sure the step taken by President Mahama amounted to, in his words, ‘disobedience of the court’.
He disagreed with the position of the plaintiffs that the action the President took undermined the case before the court.
However, the seven panel of judges in unison asked the plaintiffs to consolidate their suit.
This was because the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and one Kwasi Danso Acheampong, a private legal practitioner, had filed similar suits at the court.
In the view of the justices, Mr Afenyo-Markin must apply to the GBA to join the suit.
The case was accordingly adjourned sine die.
Richard Skyy, citing the Attorney-General as the respondent, filed a writ at the apex court asking for a clear interpretation of the provisions of the 1992 Constitution on the appointment of an Electoral Commissioner.
The applicant, who is represented by his solicitors, Dehyena Chambers, with Mr Afenyo-Markins as the lead counsel, wants the court to determine the way and manner the President should do the selection of the next EC Boss.
He wants a declaration that ‘upon true and proper interpretation of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution, the provisions of Article 91(3) of the 1992 Constitution have no bearing and are inapplicable to the special role of the Council of State in the appointment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, his Deputies and other Commissioners.’
The applicant also wants declaration that ‘upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution together with Article 91 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, it is the Council of State that has the constitutional mandate to initiate the process of appointment of the Chairman, the Deputies and other Commissioners of the Electoral Commission; and such advice on a suitable candidate(s) to be appointed constitutionally is binding on the President.’
He is asking for an order ‘directing the exact procedures to be followed by the Council of State either suo motu or by prompting by the President in such appointments in the light of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution,’ as well as ‘any other order or orders as this Honourable Court may deem meet.’
According to the applicant, Article 70 (2) of the 1992 Constitution says ‘The President shall, acting on the advice of the Council of State, appoint the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and other members of the Electoral Commission,’ while Article 91(3) of the same Constitution says, ‘The Council of State may, upon request or on its own initiative, consider and make recommendations on any matter being considered or dealt with by the President, a Minister of State, Parliament or any other authority established by this constitution except that the President, Minister of State, Parliament or other authority shall not be required to act in accordance with any recommendation made by the Council of State under this clause.’
The writ is praying the highest court of the land ‘to give judicial definition of the process for appointing a replacement for Dr Afari-Gyan.’
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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