MPs who faced Legal Hurdles For ‘Holding’ Dual Citizenships
Dual citizenship is allowed in Ghana and may be granted to anyone who is either born in Ghana or has a parent(s) of Ghanaian origin.
However, Ghana’s law prevents Ghanaians who also hold citizenship from holding key positions in the country.
A careful reading of the Dual citizenship Act, 2000(Act 591) shows that the Act does not confer to the dual citizens all the rights and privileges enjoyed by Ghanaians under the 1992 constitution.
The only benefits are the acquisition of a passport and a visa to freely travel between the foreign domiciliary and his/her home country of Ghana.
Under the Act, there are some listed prohibited positions within the Ghana public service, i.e., Army and security apparatus, Justice of the Supreme Court, Ambassador, and Chief Director of a Ministry, among others, which a dual citizen is proscribed from being appointed to.
Some public office holders including members of Parliament have had their citizenship challenged in court.
Notable among them was the famous case involving the Bawku Central MP, Adams Dramani Sakande.
How Adamu Sakande was jailed.
An Accra Fast Track High Court in July 2012 sentenced former Member of Parliament for Bawku Central Adamu Daramani Sakande to two years in prison after he was found guilty of holding dual citizenship.
The charges leveled against him included a false declaration of office or voting, perjury, and deceiving a public officer.
The late MP had also testified and denied any wrongdoing and produced documents to prove his claim that he had renounced his British citizenship.
The trial judge, Justice Charles Quist in passing judgment noted that the prosecution had been able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and established the essential ingredients of the various offenses leveled against the MP.
Alhassan Umar, MP for Zabzugu sued over dual citizenship
In what looks similar to the Adamu Dramani Sakande case, the former NDC member of parliament of Zabzugu, Alhassan Umar, was sued by two persons in his constituency allegedly for having dual citizenship from the United States and Ghana.
The plaintiffs Nikimola Jacob Makinye and Moponyaw Godwin wanted the court to remove Alhaji Umar from Parliament and declare the seat vacant.
However, in 2017, an Accra high court dismissed the case.
According to the presiding judge, Mrs. Patience Mills-Tetteh, the allegation was unfounded.
Jomoro MP wins election petition case
The Member of Parliament for the Jomoro constituency, Dorcas Affo-Toffey, won the election petition case against her eligibility as an elected MP over her alleged Ivorian citizenship.
The Sekondi High Court presided by Justice Dr. Richmond Osei Hwere on November 21, 2022, dismissed the petition and declared the MP eligible on grounds that she lost her Ivorian citizenship at the very time she acquired her Ghanaian Citizenship.
The application was filed by one Joshua Emuah Kofie, who challenged the eligibility of the MP to contest as a representative of the people in the constituency on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He alleged that the MP holds multiple nationalities –American and Ivorian citizenships, which violates the 1992 Constitution.
However, the MP denied having American citizenship but had Ivorian citizenship, which she said she had renounced.
James Gyakye Quayson in a similar case
The embattled Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin North Constituency, James Gyakye Quayson is currently facing a legal action of a dual citizenship case initially before an Accra High Court on charges of forgery, perjury and knowingly making a false declaration.
The defiant MP has since pleaded not guilty to all three charges filed against him by the state.
The court case was triggered by one Richard Takyi-Mensah, a teacher and a resident of Yamoransa in the Central Region, who sued the MP for failing to renounce his Canadian citizenship at the time he picked nomination forms to contest the Assin North Constituency election in 2020.
The Supreme court by a majority decision of 5-2 on Wednesday, April 13, 2022, ordered the MP to stop holding himself as a lawmaker following a Cape Coast High Court’s earlier ruling that James Gyakye Quayson was not eligible to contest December 7, 2020, Parliamentary Elections because he bore dual citizenship before picking nomination forms from the Electoral Commission, Ghana.
The legal team of the embattled MP subsequently filed for a review of the Supreme Court ruling that stopped him from carrying himself as a lawmaker.
But the case has seen little to no progress since the apex court gave its ruling in June 2022.
The people of Assin North have since April 2022 been left without representation in Parliament.
Though members of the National Democratic Congress think the actions meted on the Assin-North MP is a political witch-hunting by the governing New Patriotic Party, the latter has dismissed the notion.
Whether the NDC will want to see James Quayson stepping down and going to jail for allegedly breaking the law out of ‘love’ for his party, or whether the NPP will want to seek revenge in the Adamu Sakande case that saw Mahama Ayariga re-taking up Sakande’s seat in Bawku, is a wait and see game now.
For now, it appears aspiring members of Parliament and potential future public office holders may have to read the provisions of the law and various statutes on their eligibility to contest parliamentary seats in Ghana.