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Bagbin urges SALL to petition parliament over voting fiasco

Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has urged Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Likpe (SALL) residents to petition parliament to probe their inability to vote in the December 2020 elections.

Although residents of SALL voted in the 2020 presidential elections, they did not take part in the parliamentary election in the Guan constituency.

As it stands now, SALL has no representative in parliament.

Addressing a delegation from the enclave about the issue, the Speaker of Parliament encouraged them to invoke the jurisdiction of parliament on the matter.

“I can only advise that you may have to come through the proper procedure to invoke the jurisdiction of the house on this matter in detail. We want you to come through with a petition because this is well known, and the facts are not hidden.

“The people must be compensated for the loss. You cannot have a Parliament running and you don’t have anybody representing you there,” he urged.

When SALL residents were excluded from the Hohoe parliamentary elections, they sought legal redress.

On January 12, 2021, the defeated NDC Hohoe parliamentary candidate Margaret Kweku and four others filed a petition against the elected NPP MP John Peter Amewu.

The petitioners insisted that the people of SALL were supposed to vote in the Hohoe constituency and not Guan, as was stated by the Electoral Commission (EC).

They succeeded in getting an injunction restraining the Hohoe MP-elect, who was one of the 275 MPs sworn in on January 7, to stop holding himself as the legislator.

The petitioners wanted the Supreme Court to direct the EC to conduct a new parliamentary election for the constituents.

What happened after the Ho High Court granted the injunction

The then Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Dame, filed a motion at the apex court to fight the injunction placed on Amewu by the Ho High Court.

The injunction was granted after residents of  SALL argued that the EC’s failure to allow them to vote in the just-ended parliamentary elections amounted to a breach of their rights.

NDC’ Hohoe parliamentary candidate, Madam Margaret Kweku, leading the entourage

The injunction secured by the residents prevented the commission from gazetting Mr Amewu as the winner of the Hohoe parliamentary polls.

According to them, the creation of the Oti Region coupled with a recent Supreme Court decision and failure of the EC to create a constituency for them meant they did not vote for a parliamentary candidate in the election.

But the Attorney General jumped to the defence of the commission. It argued that the decision was not legally sound.

READ: Why Tsikata wants Honyenugah removed from Amewu’s case

Attorney General’s argument

It was the case of Mr Dame that the Ho High court erred when it granted the injunction.

Mr Dame said the case affects the rights of the residents of the Hohoe constituency to have an MP and the composition of the next parliament.

In exercising its human rights oversight, he argued that the High Court had no jurisdiction to grant the injunction as the SALL residents did not go through the proper procedure.

According to him, residents of SALL do not belong to the Volta Region where the Hohoe constituency is found and therefore cannot challenge the election of the MP.

Mr Dame said the right constituency for the people of SALL to cast their vote was the Buem Constituency in the Oti Region and not the Hohoe Constituency.

He urged the court to strike out the case.

ALSO READ: Tsikata’s attempt to remove Honyenugah dismissed

Counsel for the residents, Tsatsu Tsikata, however, disagreed.

He argued that the action by the commission to deny his clients from voting in the parliamentary election in Hohoe was a breach of the fundamental human rights, administrative justice and the right to equality before the law.

Regarding voting in the Buem constituency, Mr Tsikata said it was unconstitutional because the commission had failed to gazette the specific constituency stated.

Court documents suggested that the Guan District, out of which the Guan constituency would be created, was gazetted in August 2020.

Supreme Court’s ruling

In a unanimous decision, the five-member panel, presided by Justice Yaw Appau, held that the court erred in granting the order since it did not have the jurisdiction to do so.

The court believed that while the Ho High Court’s decision was about election petition, the original case that invoked the jurisdiction of the court was about human rights violations.

Therefore, it noted that it was strange the court orders were about Amewu’s election rather than the denial of the right of the people of SALL to vote.

It, therefore, annulled all the proceedings of the court’s sitting by the Ho High Court judge Justice George Buadi which granted the injunction freezing the gazetting of Mr Amewu.

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