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Assin North case: high court to hear application on 21 June seeking to vary hearing timelines

The high court adjourned sitting to 21 June 2023 so that lawyers for Quayson, the deposed MP for Assin North, can move their motion for variation in the timelines for the case

The high court in Accra, presided over by Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh, has adjourned sitting to tomorrow (Wednesday 21 June 2023) to hear an application by lawyers for James Gyakye Quayson seeking to vary the timelines set by the court to try the case of perjury preferred against him by the state.

The lead counsel for the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Assin North, Tsatsu Tsikata, filed a motion on Monday (19 June 2023) challenging the decision by the court at its last sitting to proceed with the trial in daily hearings to ensure expeditious trial, in line with the 2019 practice directives issued by the Chief Justice.

However, lawyers to Quayson are asking the court to suspend proceedings to allow him to contest the Assin North by-election, which will take place on Tuesday 27 June 2023.

They say he will return to the court any day after the contest for proceedings to take their natural course.

Quayson’s lawyers insist that their client is on a national assignment and that the court ought to grant his request in order to allow him to concentrate on his campaign.

In court

In court today (Tuesday 20 June 2023), Deputy Attorney General Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, led by the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, opposed the application by Quayson’s lawyers.

Tuah-Yeboah told the court that Quayson’s decision to contest the Assin North by-election, which has been occasioned by offences he committed, in connection with which he has been charged and is standing trial, cannot be justifiable reason to halt proceedings to allow him time away from the courts to contest the by-election.

He also noted in court that the state must be given an opportunity to file its opposition to the statement of case filed by Quayson’s lawyers

To this end, he asked the court not to grant the request by James Gyakye Quayson’s lawyers but ensure that the trial goes ahead as planned, noting that the next date that has been selected for the trial is Tuesday 21 June 2023, and that the court should stick to this.

By court

Justice Mary Maame Ekue Yanzuh’s court said, in a short ruling, that in the interest of fairness, she will order the state to respond to the statement of case filed by lawyers for Quayson. She said the state should do that by close of day today (20 June 2023).

As a result, she adjourned sitting to Wednesday 21 June 2023 to allow Quayson’s lawyers to move their motion for variation of time in order to get it out of the way of the substantive case.

Background

Quayson, in spite of a high court judgment that declared his election as an MP in the 2020 parliamentary election unconstitutional, continued to hold himself as a Member of Parliament and was seen attending sittings of the House and carrying out parliamentary duties.

Displeased with his actions, the petitioner in the high court action, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, a resident of Assin North, filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking an order to injunct Quayson.

He also sought an interpretation of Article 94 (2a) of the 1992 constitution of the republic, which states that “a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he – (a) owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana”.

The injunction order of the Supreme Court will remain in force until the final determination of the application seeking interpretation of Article 94 (2a). The Cape Coast high court restrained Quayson from holding himself as the MP for Assin North on the NDC ticket.

On Wednesday 28 July 2021, Justice Kwasi Boakye also ordered that a fresh parliamentary election be held in the constituency. This followed a parliamentary election petition to the Cape Coast high court, also brought by Michael Ankomah-Nimfah, seeking to annul the MP’s election.\

Quayson polled 17,498 votes, against 14,793 for the New Patriotic Party’s Abena Durowaa Mensah, in the 7 December 2020 parliamentary election.

On 30 December 2020, Michael Ankomah-Nimfah filed a parliamentary election petition at the Cape Coast high court, challenging Quayson’s eligibility to be an MP.

He argued that the MP was not eligible because, at the time he (Quayson) filed his nomination to stand as a parliamentary candidate, he was still a citizen of Canada.

The act of filing, he argued, was against the express provisions of Article 94 (2a) of the 1992 constitution and Section 9(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1992 (PNDCL 284).

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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