A judge of the Supreme Court, Her Ladyship Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, took a swipe at Tsatsu Tsikata in the Supreme Court today (4 January 2021) when he raised a preliminary objection demanding that Justice Clemence Honyenuga recuse himself from the panel of five judges hearing the Ho high court case, on the grounds that the said judge has a close, personal and intimate relationship with the MP-elect for Hohoe.
The case, brought by the Attorney General, seeks to quash a decision by the Ho high court issuing an injunction against the MP-elect holding himself as the person elected to take the Hohoe seat in the next parliament.
Justice Torkonoo quizzed Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata whether or not she, too, should recuse herself from the case on the premise that she is friends with Tsikata and his family and has had several meals in his home over the years.
“I have had several meals in your house, including kenkey and fish. So should I also recuse myself on the basis that I am friends with your family?” she asked in open court.
In his response, Tsikata said Justice Torkonoo’s example did not in any way relate to the facts he had presented to the court praying that Justice Honyenuga recuse himself from hearing the substantive case before the court.
Recusal of panel member
Before the Supreme Court invited the Deputy Attorney General to present his oral arguments in the main case before the court, the lawyer for the interested parties, Tsatsu Tsikata, raised a preliminary objection against the inclusion of Justice Clemence Honyenuga on the five-member Supreme Court panel constituted by the Chief Justice, Kwasi Anin-Yeboah, to adjudicate the matter.
The grounds for his objection were that Justice Honyenuga has a long-standing relationship with the MP-elect for Hohoe, John Peter Amewu.
Tsikata said that his continued stay on the panel will result in a real likelihood of bias on the part of the Supreme Court panel in favour of the Energy Minister and MP-elect.
Objection by AG
The deputy attorney general Godfred Yeboah Dame, in his opposition to the objection made by Tsikata, told the court that the application was “totally baseless and without merit”.
He indicated further that Tsikata in his objection had not provided any evidence whatsoever and that the application was speculative and meant to delay the process of adjudicating the substantive case before the court.
Ruling of Supreme Court on objection
The five-member panel led by Justice Yaw Appaw, which also includes Justice Samuel Marful-Sau, Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, Justice Clemence Honyenuga and Justice Amadu Tanko, reconstituted after rising for about 30 minutes to consider the argument and dismissed the preliminary objection made by Tsatsu Tsikata.
The court ruled that John Peter Amewu is not a party to the instant application even though he may be remotely affected by the decision of the court.
To this end, whatever relationship that may exist between Justice Honyenuga and Amewu “does not arise for consideration whatsoever”.
“There being no merit in the instant application therein, same is hereby dismissed,” Justice Appaw ruled.
The Attorney General on 29 December 2020 filed a motion on notice at the Supreme Court praying the court to quash the decision of the Ho high court that granted an interim injunction in an ex parte application by five applicants.
The application seeks to stop the Electoral Commission (EC) from gazetting the results for Hohoe in the 7 December 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The motion, entitled “The Republic versus High Court, Ho, ex parte Attorney General (Applicant), Professor Margaret Kweku, Simon Alan Opoku-Minta, John Kwame Obompeh, Godfred Koku Fofie, Felix Quarshie (interested parties)”, seeks among other things, an order of certiorari directed at the high court in Ho, Volta Region, with Justice George Buadi presiding, to “bring into this Court for the purpose of being quashed the orders of the court dated 23 December 2020 in Suit No. E12/40/2021 entitled “In the matter of an application under Article 33 of the Constitution 1992 and Order 67 of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2004 (CI 47) and the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court between Professor Margaret Kweku, Simon Alan Opoku-Mintah, John Kwame Obompeh, Godfried Koku Fofie, Felix Quarshie and the Electoral Commission, Wisdom Kofi Akpakli, John Peter Amewu and the Attorney General.”
The Attorney General is also seeking an order prohibiting the high court in Ho from further hearing or conducting proceedings in the said case.
It is the Attorney General’s contention that the orders of the Ho high court dated 23 December 2020 constitute a “patent error on the face of the record to the extent that they purported to confer on the applicants (interested parties herein), non-existent voting rights in respect of the Hohoe constituency in the Volta Region”.
Argument of Attorney General
According to the statement of case filed by the Attorney General on behalf of the MP-elect for Hohoe, the facts of the case make it abundantly clear that the pursuit of the action filed by the interested parties at the high court in Ho is an attempt to enforce a non-existent right.
“The interested parties have already been told by this Honourable Court that, to the extent that CI 95 places their traditional areas of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe and Lolobi in the Hohoe constituency, same is unconstitutional. CI 95 ought to be amended in order to place the said traditional areas in the Oti Region. They ceased to be part of the Hohoe constituency in Volta Region immediately the Oti Region was created and they were put thereunder.
“The alleged failure of the Electoral Commission to amend CI 95 to give effect to the boundaries of the new regions, does not mean that the interested parties together with the residents of the four areas, can continue to assert voting rights in the Hohoe Constituency. To do so will be inconsistent with Article 47(2) which prohibits a constituency from straddling two regions, and will create further constitutional chaos,” the statement of case says.
“It is thus beyond doubt that the action at the high court, Ho, is a palpable abuse of the process. The wrongful assumption of jurisdiction by Justice Buadi, was a serious error apparent on the face of the record. This court ought to exercise its supervisory jurisdiction to prevent a situation where the interested parties will, through the backdoor, surreptitiously seek to assert the right to vote in a manner which is constitutionally frowned upon.
“The interested parties’ case is borne out of mischief and an attempt to judicially sanction an unconstitutionality. It is merely a vile attempt to upset the hard won electoral victory of the winner of the parliamentary election in Hohoe Constituency through an unjustified invocation of the court’s human rights jurisdiction,” the Attorney General further says in the state’s argument.
On 7 December 2020, presidential and parliamentary elections were held throughout Ghana for the election of a president and members of Ghana’s Parliament in 275 constituencies existing in the country.
The parliamentary election in Hohoe resulted in the due declaration by the Electoral Commission of John Peter Amewu (standing on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party) as the winner. He secured 26,952 ballots: 55.18% of the popular vote.
The results of the Parliamentary Elections nationwide were gazetted by the Electoral Commission on Tuesday 22 December 2020.
However, on 23 December 2020, the interested parties, led by the losing parliamentary candidate for the National Democratic Congress in Hohoe, invoked the jurisdiction of the Ho high court under Article 33, claiming a violation of their human rights in the conduct of the parliamentary election in Hohoe.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio