In a recent development that has sparked significant interest, the Supreme Court of Ghana has issued a 35-page judgment regarding the Assin North matter. The decision, which annulled the election of Hon. Gyakye Quayson, raises crucial points of discussion.
This article presents some initial reflections on the judgment, highlighting notable aspects such as the interpretation of qualification timing and the scrutiny process conducted by the Electoral Commission.
With the opportunity for the people of Assin North to express their voice once again in an upcoming election, the pursuit of justice and genuine development remains at the forefront by the ranking member of parliament Hon. Sammy Gyamfi.
The following preliminary thoughts come to mind readily:
1. Section 20 (d) of the Representation of the People’s Act (PNDC Law 284) provides that a Parliamentary candidate must be qualified at the time of his ELECTION. Strangely, the Supreme Court of Ghana in their judgment says that, qualification must be at the time of NOMINATION (i.e at the time a candidate files or submits his/her nomination form to the EC).
2. The decision of the Supreme Court to annul Hon. Gyakye Quayson’s election is solely based on the fact that, at the time he submitted his nomination form to the EC on 9th October, 2020, he had not received his certificate of renunciation of his Canadian citizenship and that he received same on 26th November, 2020.
3. Even if we are to go by this strange position of the Supreme Court that qualification must be at the time of NOMINATION and not ELECTION, it is important to remind the Supreme Court that in the Nduom case, they held in effect, that the nomination period for an election, must extend beyond the submission of nomination forms and must include the period the EC uses to scrutinize submitted results, within which the EC is supposed to give candidates a hearing and an opportunity to rectify any anomalies on their nomination form. The nomination period therefore terminates after the EC has scrutinized submitted nomination forms, given candidates a hearing and an opportunity to rectify any anomalies on same and has reached a decision on the validity or otherwise of the nomination of the candidate.
3. In the case of the 2020 Assin North election involving Hon. James Gyakye Quayson, he submitted his nomination form to the EC on 9th October, 2020. However, during the scrutiny of his submitted nomination forms by the EC, a petition challenging the validity of his nomination from an NPP group calling themselves “Concerned Citizens of Assin North” was presented to the EC in Accra, whereupon Hon. Quayson was invited by the Director of Elections of the EC, Dr. Serebour Quaicoo to respond to the issues raised against him on 27th November, 2020. A day before he appeared before the EC at their Headquarters in Accra, that is on 26th November, 2020, Hon. Quayson received his certificate of renunciation of his Canadian citizenship. This is why after investigating the matter, the EC accepted his nomination as valid and cleared him to contest the election on 27th November, 2020 because he had already received his certificate of renunciation a day prior.
4. Note that the election was held on 7th December, 2020. Hon. Quayson applied to renounce his Canadian citizenship in December 2019. But for delays occasioned by COVID-19, he should have gotten his certificate of renunciation not later then June 2020. God being so good, he eventually received his certificate of renunciation on 26th November, 2020 as conceded by the Supreme Court. This was 10 clear days before his election. Note that, Section 20(d) of PNDC Law 284 says that qualification must be at the time of ELECTION.
“As a discerning and objective Ghanaian, judge for yourself if the Supreme Court’s decision to annul Hon. Quayson’s election is fair or not.”
“I am glad that the good people of Assin North in whom sovereignty resides, will have the opportunity to do JUSTICE in this matter once and for all, on 27th June, 2023. I have no doubt in my mind, having been on the ground and interacted with many of them the past few days, that they will not falter. And that, they will vote for Hon. James Gyakye Quayson. I have no doubt in my mind, that they will vote for JUSTICE AND GENUINE DEVELOPMENT”. Hon Sammy Gyamfi stated.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Assin North matter has triggered important debates surrounding the timing of qualification for parliamentary candidates and the scrutiny process conducted by the Electoral Commission. While the court’s decision to annul Hon. Gyakye Quayson’s election may have generated mixed opinions, it ultimately highlights the significance of adhering to electoral regulations and ensuring transparency in the democratic process. As the people of Assin North prepare for a new election, they have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right and vote for justice and genuine development. The outcome of this upcoming election will undoubtedly shape the future of the constituency and serve as a testament to the power of the electorate in upholding the principles of democracy.