A lawyer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) Law School, Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare, has observed that the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, has no right to remain head of the legislature after the Supreme Court ruling that he had violated the Constitution.
“An even obvious and honourable path is for the Rt. Hon. Speaker to resign his office and publicly apologize for violating the Presidential Oath of Office,” he said in an article titled: “Implications of the Supreme Court’s Declaration that the Speaker has violated the Constitution and the Presidential Oath of Office.”
Prof Asare, who is a United States-trained lawyer and another sued the speaker of parliament separately for his “willful refusal to subscribe to the oath as required by Article 60(12)” when the president and his vice both travelled outside Ghana last year and the mantle fell on the Speaker to act.
According to Prof Asare, the notion that the speaker must take and subscribe the oath related to the office of the president whenever he (president) and the vice president travel outside the country is one that previous speakers had followed since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in a suit called ‘Asare v Attorney General.’
He said there was precedent set by Speaker Joyce Bamford Addo when she “took and subscribed to the Oath of Office on October 1, 2010 and again on November 10, 2010 when then President John Atta Mills and vice president John Mahama were absent from the country.”
Adjaho Much Aware
He said, “In both cases, the Rt. Hon. Speaker Adjaho, who was then First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, presided over proceedings in Parliament when Speaker Bamford-Addo took the oath to perform the president’s functions. Thus, the Rt. Hon. Speaker Adjaho was fully aware of and understood the requirement of Articles 60(11)-(12).”
He added, “At no point whatsoever, had the Rt. Hon. Speaker Adjaho ever raised any issues about the practice, either in parliament or at the Supreme Court.”
“The Supreme Court’s declaration that the Right Honourable Speaker Doe Adjaho violated both the Constitution and the Presidential Oath of Office raises serious questions about whether the speaker can remain in office and whether the Attorney-General should initiate criminal prosecutions against him.
“The speaker, parliament and the Attorney-General cannot simply ignore the court’s eloquent opinion and do so at the risk of undermining the Supreme Court and the Constitution.”
He said a clear implication of the Supreme Court’s declaration is that “the speaker must submit himself to the laws of the Republic of Ghana and suffer the penalty for violating his oath.”
The legal gem averred,“The Presidential Oath obliges the oath maker to observe the limits of his authority and act in accordance with the powers delegated to him by the Constitution; as such, his violation defiles the Constitution and is a grave Constitutional tort. The oath will surely atrophy into a meaningless ritual if it can be violated without a penalty.”
He further said that the Supreme Court “properly concluded that it lacked the jurisdiction to determine whether the constitutional torts implicated here constituted a high crime,” adding “such a determination is a criminal matter properly determined by the criminal process.”
By William Yaw Owusu