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Mason forces court to stop swearing-in of Assin North MP-Elect

The National Democratic Congress MP Elect for Assin North in the Central Region will not be among the 275 lawmakers to be sworn-in come January 7, 2021.

This is after the Cape Coast High Court granted an injunction restraining the MP-elect, James Quayeson, from being among his peers because he holds dual citizenship.

A private citizen and a resident of Assin Berekum, Micheal Ankomah, Nimfah filed a suit at the Cape Coast High Court challenging the qualification of James Quayeson as the MP-elect for the area.

The mason averred that at the time Mr Quayeson filed his nomination he was still holding onto his Canadian citizenship. He failed to denounce his citizenship as required by law.

Ghana’s laws bar dual citizens from holding public offices in Ghana.

In freezing the MP Elect right to be in Parliament, the judge said: “the allegation contained is of grave nature and he could not hold himself as MP-elect.”

Also, the NDC MP-Elect did not have the renunciation certificate to present before the court to confirm that he had indeed renounced his Canadian citizenship.

Although court documents showed the MP-Elect received his certificate on November 26, as at the time he filed his nomination, he did not have the requisite qualification.

The judge, Kwadwo Boakye Tawiah described the process of getting the certificate as purely administrative and held that he should have obtained the certificate before filing for his nomination.

NPP strategy 

The governing New Patriotic Party, on December 23, 2020, sought to o trigger a by-election by challenging the eligibility of James Quayson to contest in the Assin North parliamentary elections which he won.

Legal practitioner, Gary Nimako, had asked the Ghana Immigration Service to confirm if indeed the NDC MP-elect had renounced his Canadian citizenship before the December 7 parliamentary elections.

It is not clear what the outcome produced but the MP-elect would be deemed to be ineligible to contest as Ghana’s law does not allow dual citizens to contest in national elections.

The political hunt for post-election seats

The results of this search could be game-changing for the NPP and NDC after the 2020 parliamentary elections produced a hung parliament.

With 137 MPs apiece, the NPP and NDC are sniffing around any results that could be successfully challenged which would then break the historic tie.

Assin North is predominantly an NPP seat with the party winning it four times out of seven contests.

The NDC won it in 2012, lost it in 2016, and reclaimed it in 2020, snatching it from the incumbent, Abena Durowaa Mensah.

Ms Abena Durowaa Mensah
Photo: Abena Durowaa Mensah

She lost by 2,699 votes as the NDC fought to win back several NPP seats in the Central region.

The NPP would therefore feel it could win back the seat if James Gyakye Quayson is found to be ineligible to contest.

Background

Another Sakande case looming?

Adamu Sakande is dead
Photo: Adamu Sakande

The forfeiture of a seat due to dual citizenship has happened in Ghana before.

Mr. Adamu Dramani Sakande contested the Bawku Central seat on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2008 election and snatched it from Mahama Ayariga, the incumbent.

Soon after the victory, a cattle rearer from the constituency, Sumaila Bielbiel, dragged Mr. Sakande to court on allegations that he had British citizenship he had not renounced.

In the ensuing by-election, Mahama Ayariga regained his seat and has held it to date.

But in addition to the civil suit against Sakande, criminal charges were later slapped on him. In 2012, the Accra Fast Track High Court sentenced Mr. Sakande to two years imprisonment after he was found guilty of false declaration of office, perjury, and deceit of a public officer.

On December 31, 2012, the then President, John Dramani Mahama, granted the former MP pardon based on medical grounds.

The former MP died last September in London following a persistent heart problem.

NDC also hunts for an extra seat

The results of the search on the dual citizenship status of the Assin North MP-elect now hangs on Foreign Affairs Ministry.

But the NDC is also looking for an extra seat albeit differently. It has called for a re-collation of the Techiman South parliamentary results which was declared in favor of the NPP candidate, Martin Adjei Mensah.

Like the Assin North seat, the Techiman South seat can swing. The NDC has won it four times out of seven contests. The NPP has held it three times.

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