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Why Tsikata wants Justice Honyenugah removed from Supreme Court panel for Amewu’s case

Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu

Tsatsu Tsikata, counsel for the residents of Santrofi, Akpafu, Lipke and Lolobi (SALL) contesting the election of Hohoe MP,  John Peter Amewu, has asked that a panel member be removed from the Hohoe case.

It is the case of Mr Tsikata that Justice Clemence Hornyenugah has deep emotional ties with the Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu.

Mr Tsikata, on December 31, last year, wrote to the court to have the said judge recuse himself from the case.

He argued that the judge would be biased in handling the case since he was a close friend of the Hohoe MP-elect, John Peter Amewu.

Justice Honyenugah, who doubles as the Paramount Chief of the Nyagbo Traditional Area, came under scrutiny during his vetting last year for endorsing the administration of President Akufo-Addo in his welcome address at a durbar of chiefs and people of the Afajato South District.

Residents of SALL are accusing the EC of gerrymandering and denying them the right to elect a representative for parliament. They had a temporary victory when a Ho High Court granted an ex-parte motion freezing the swearing-in of Mr Amewu as MP. But the Attorney General wants the decision reversed.

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“He is well aware of the circumstances and cannot be sitting as a judge. We had hoped that he will spare us the tussle by recusing himself.

“Mr Honyenuga has a long-standing personal relationship with the person in question. We are ready to bring evidence of those who know both parties including statements made by both parties attesting of their unbreakable bond,” Mr Tsikata said.

But the Deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, shot down the argument.

According to him, “no basis whatsoever has been laid out as an application so far as recusal is concerned.”

He urged the court to dismiss the application which sought to impugn bias as the ” allegation is speculative.”

“For instance, there was a case where a member of the panel used to play golf with the party in question and even that was not taken as enough grounds for recusal and counsel is here with claims of personal relationship.

“This is totally frivolous, attempt to delay the proceedings, there is nothing whatsoever that should impede this case.

A member of the panel, Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, stoked laughter when she asked Mr Tsikata if she should also recuse herself.

“I remember eating kenkey in your house, so should I also recuse myself,” she asked triggering laughter in the courtroom.

With both sides unwilling to compromise,  the panel presided over by Justice Yaw Appau went on recess to take a decision.

Background

Some residents of Santrofi, Akpafu, Likpe and Lolobi had filed an injunction at the Ho High Court preventing Ghana’s Electoral Commission from gazetting John Peter Amewu as the winner of the Hohoe parliamentary polls.

The residents had argued that failure to vote in the just-ended parliamentary elections amounted to a breach of their rights.

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.

It subsequently brought the matter before the apex court.

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 urged the court to strike out the case.

The Supreme Court will therefore give its ruling on whether or not Energy Minister John Peter Amewu should be sworn in as MP for Hohoe constituency on January 7, 2021.

The panel comprises Justices Appau, Marful Sau, Clemence Honyenuga and Gertrude Torkonoo and Amadu Tanko.

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