‘SALL review application fails’ – Supreme court dismisses case against Amewu
A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court has dismissed the review application challenging the legitimacy of the Hohoe MP-elect, John Peter Amewu.
The court presided over by Justice Yaw Appau said the application filed by the residents of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi (SALL) fails to meet the legal requirement.
In effect, the earlier panel of five were right in giving the Electoral Commission the green light to gazette NPPs John Peter Amewu as Hohoe MP elect.
After minutes of suspense, Justice Yaw Appau rushed through two simple words, “application fails”.
Justice Appau said the full judgement would be available by the close of today, March 30, 2021.
Aside Justice Appau, the review panel included Justices Samuel Marful-Sau, Gertrude Torkornoo, Amadu Tanko, Yoni Kulendi, Lovelace Avril Johnson and Henrietta Mensah Bonsu.
How it all started
In a unanimous decision, a five-member panel, presided by Justice Yaw Appau, held that the Ho High court erred in granting the order since it did not have the jurisdiction to do so.
The court was of the belief that while the Ho High Court’s decision was about election petition, the original case which invoked the jurisdiction of the court was about human right violations.
It noted that it was therefore 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 Justice George Buadi, which granted the injunction freezing the gazetting of Mr Amewu.
The Ho High Court on December 23 granted an injunction that prevented the EC from gazetting John Peter Amewu as the MP-elect.
The applicants, the people of SALL, insist they have been denied their right to vote in the Hohoe constituency after the creation of the Oti Region, which warranted the creation of a new constituency.
The apex court also held that the order given by the court on December 23, as of January 5, was non-existent since the 10 days injunction granted by the court had elapsed.
“Our jurisdiction does not extend to the C.I. 128, guiding the conduct of the Electoral Commission. It is the EC that must correct the issue regarding the Buem constituency.
“Whether they [People of SALL] should vote at the Buem constituency is not the issue before us. It is a matter between the interested parties and the Electoral Commission.
“If the interested parties were denied the right to vote, what has that got to do with the gazetting of the Hohoe MP-elect? He is not an agent of EC neither did he perform any decision for the EC, so why should he be the point of discussion.
“If the contention of the SALL people is that Amewu was not duly elected because of infractions, that would have been different but that is not the case here,” Justice Appau said.
Among other things, the Attorney General was also seeking a prohibition order to prevent the Ho High Court from hearing the substantive case of disfranchising the people of SALL.
But the court tossed it and gave Justice Buadi the right to continue hearing the rest of the case which relates to the alleged human rights violations.
The state through the then Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Dame, filed a motion at the apex court to fight an injunction placed on Amewu by the Ho High Court.
The injunction was granted after some residents of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi (SALL) argued that the Electoral Commission’s failure to allow them to vote in the just-ended parliamentary elections amounted to a breach of their rights.
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 just-ended election.
But the Attorney General jumped to the defence of the commission. It argued that the decision is not legally sound.
Attorney General’s argument
It was the case of the deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame that the Ho High court erred when it granted the injunction.
Mr. Dame said the case affects the rights of the residents of Hohoe Constituency to have an MP and the composition of the next parliament.
He argued that the High Court in exercising its human rights oversight 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.
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 is a breach of the fundamental human rights, administrative justice and the right to equality before the law.
With regards to voting in the Buem constituency, Mr Tsikata said it is unconstitutional because the commission had failed to gazette the specific constituency stated.
Court’s documents suggested that the Guan District, out of which the Guan constituency would be created was gazetted in August 2020.