Supreme Court throws out NDC’s Tsatsu Tsikata

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday received a first devastating blow from the Supreme Court in its desperate attempt to deny the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament-elect for Hohoe Constituency John Peter Amewu from taking his seat in Ghana’s legislature on January 7, 2021.

NDC proxies (applicants) through their ‘glorified’ lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata, secured an interim injunction via an ex parte application in the High Court in Ho, to restrain the Electoral Commission (EC) from gazetting Mr Amewu as MP-elect.

The surreptitious move was part of a series of election petitions being lined up by the main opposition NDC after 2020 general election.

The applicants were NDC parliamentary candidate for Hohoe, Professor Margaret Kweku; Simon Alan Opoku-Mintah, John Kwame Obompeh, Godfried Koku Fofie and Felix Quarshie with the EC, Wisdom Kofi Akpakli, John-Peter Amewu and the Attorney-General as respondents.

They also sought to prevent Mr. Amewu from holding himself as the elected MP as a way of preventing the NPP from being the majority caucus in the next.

However, a five-member panel of the highest court of the land, presided over by Justice Yaw Apau with colleagues Samuel Marful-Sau, Gertrude Torkunor, Amadu Tanko and Clemence Hornyenuga, in a unanimous decision declared as null and void, the Ho High Court’s interim injunction.

They unambiguously stated that the High Court Judge erred in granting the injunction, which has since elapsed.

This was after Attorney-General Department through a Deputy Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame, filed a motion and prayed the apex court to quash the interim injunction.

Mr Dame argued that the aggrieved parties went to the High Court with an election petition disguised as a human rights issue.

In a 40-page judgment, the Justices noted that the submissions of the applicants at the High Court and at the apex court, suggested that they were seeking to enforce their fundamental human rights to exercise their franchise in the election organised by the EC.

Consequently, the Supreme Court said there was no justifiable reason to stop the gazetting of the results of Hohoe or the swearing-in of Mr Amewu.

It therefore encouraged the interested parties to direct their action at the election management body rather than Mr Amewu.

A-G’s argument

Deputy Attorney General Mr Dame had averred that the orders of the Ho High Court constituted 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”.

“The interested parties have already been told by this Honourable Court that, to the extent that C. I. 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 4 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.

“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,” Mr Dame argued.

Background

The AG filed the motion on notice at the Supreme Court to overturn the interim injunction granted by the Ho High Court, presided over by Justice George Buadi after an ex parte application by eligible voters in the newly-created Guan district.

The applicants had prayed the court to restrain Mr Amewu from presenting himself to be sworn in as MP for the area or from holding himself out as such.

The eligible voters, who are resident in the newly-created districts which include Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Likpe (SALL), were not allowed to vote in the December 7 parliamentary elections.

As a result of the creation of the Oti Region and the subsequent creation of the Guan District which included SALL, the EC gave a directive that the people of those communities should not vote in the parliamentary election in the Hohoe Constituency on December 7.

Amewu’s victory

Mr Amewu polled 26,952 votes to beat the main opposition National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) Margaret Kweku, who polled 21,821 votes.

Meanwhile, the EC has revealed that it will begin the process of creating a new constituency in the Guan District when Parliament commences in 2021.