SC Strikes Out ‘Canada’ MP Case

James Gyekye Quayson

The Supreme Court yesterday struck out a motion for certiorari filed by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Assin North, James Gyekye Quayson, over his dual citizenship matter.

He was seeking to quash the orders of a Cape Coast High Court which ordered him to file his written legal argument in a petition challenging his eligibility as MP.

The Court of Appeal in Cape Coast in the Central Region on Monday also dismissed an application for stay of proceedings at the Cape Coast High Court, filed by the MP in the same matter.

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Yaw Appau held that the certiorari application was not properly before it.

The MP had wanted the orders of the high court to be quashed for what he calls its refusal to stay proceedings and refer a matter of constitutional interpretation at the Supreme Court.

The embattled MP wanted the highest court to interpret Article 94 (2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution which prohibits a person who holds citizenship of another country from contesting as MP in Ghana.

He was also asking the Supreme Court to prohibit Justice Kwasi Boakye at the Cape Coast High Court from further hearing the petition.

Appearing before the court yesterday, Pwavra Teriwajah, counsel for the MP, was queried by the panel as to why he did not file the certiorari application before the high court for the lower court to make a decision.

The judges said if the party was not satisfied with the outcome of the ruling in the application filed before the trial court or a constitutional matter arose, they could then apply to the Supreme Court for it to be settled.

The court, as part of the scrutiny, said there was no ruling attached to the motion before it, hence it did not know what ruling the application was seeking to quash.

The lawyer then told the court that they had not filed their legal submission but the court set July 27, 2021, to give its judgment.

Justice Gertrude Toorkornoo, a member of the panel, then advised the lawyer to file an application before the high court before the judge sits on the matter which is expected to be heard today, July 28.

Counsel for the MP subsequently applied to the court to withdraw the case, which was granted, and it was struck out as requested.

The panel which was presided over by Justice Appau and assisted by Justices Gabriel Pwamang, Nene Amegatcher, Gertrude Torkornoo, and Yoni Kulendi awarded a cost of GH¢5,000 against the MP.

Main Petition

The petitioner, Michael Ankomah Nimfah, on January 6, 2021, applied for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the MP-elect from being sworn in and holding himself as MP for Assin North because he claimed the MP held Canadian citizenship.

The court granted the application, but in flagrant disregard for the court’s order, the MP-elect then was subsequently sworn in to be part of the Eighth Parliament of the Fourth of Republic on January 7.

In the substantive petition challenging the qualification to be an MP, the petitioner intimated per Article 94 of the 1992 Constitution, the Representation of the People Law, Act 284 and the CI 127, Mr. Quayson was not qualified at the time of filing to contest the 2020 parliamentary elections, and should be disqualified.

The petitioner had claimed that as at the time Mr. Quayson was filing his papers with the Electoral Commission to enable him to go to Parliament, he was holding dual citizenship (both Ghanaian and Canadian), which the 1992 Constitution expressly does not allow for all those aspiring to hold public office in Ghana.

The petitioners are therefore, asking the court to declare the Assin North Parliamentary Election null and void, and order fresh election.

MP Fights Back

The MP fought back, arguing that it is not at the time of filing to contest that should be used to disqualify a candidate.

He insisted that once the application to renounce the citizenship was set in motion, it was deemed to be effective, and also held that it is at the time of being sworn in as the MP, that the law applies.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak