Former Supreme Court Justice Justice William Atuguba has called the Supreme Court’s ruling disqualifying Mr James Gyakye Quayson from running in the 2020 parliamentary elections in the Assin North Constituency “scandalous.”
“The Supreme Court does not stand in good light in disqualifying Gyakye Quayson despite his clear certificate of renunciation of his Canadian citizenship as from 26th November 2020, whereas the election was on December 7, 2020,” he told reporters.
Justice Atuguba, who retired from the bench in June 2018, made the case during a public lecture on the topic of “Protecting our democracy: the role of the judiciary” on Tuesday at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana.
On May 17, 2023, the Supreme Court ordered Parliament to remove James Gyakye Quayson’s name from its records as a Member of Parliament for Assin North Constituency in the Central Region.
In a unanimous decision, a seven-member panel presided over by Justice Jones Dotse ruled that the Electoral Commission acted unconstitutionally by allowing him to run in the 2020 Parliamentary elections without proof of renouncing his Canadian citizenship.
Mr Michael Ankomah Nimfah, an Assin Bereku resident and the Plaintiff, obtained a decision from the Cape Coast High Court invalidating Quayson’s election due to his alleged Canadian citizenship.
The Electoral Commission consequently organised a by-election in the Assin North Constituency on June 27, 2023 – and Mr Quayson contested on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress and won.
Justice Atuguba questioned why the Supreme Court would hear a case that had been decided by the High Court “on merit.”
He contended that Mr Quayson’s certificate of renunciation, dated November 26, 2020, was “more important” than his (Quayson’s) participation in the parliamentary campaigns between October 5th and 9th, 2020, when he filed his parliamentary nomination papers with the Electoral Commission.
“If the certificate of renunciation is so mandatory and conclusive, why was it not conclusive in its effect to qualify Gyakye Quayson when he received the dated 26th November 2020 certificate whereas the parliamentary election was held on 7th December 2020?” Justice Atuguba inquired.
“It should be noted that his certificate of citizenship is linked to an oath of allegiance; the two move together,” he added.It is difficult to believe that Gyakye Quayson, who submitted his renunciation of citizenship papers to Canada in 2019, will be taken seriously in December 2020 as a matter of hard realism as opposed to formalism to Canada.”
Justice Atuguba expressed concern about the judiciary’s independence and impartiality, and questioned why the Constitution empowered the President to appoint four representatives to the Judiciary Council, in addition to the Attorney General.
“Executive powers of the President and functionalities must be curtailed,” he told reporters.
According to Justice Atuguba, appointments to the judiciary and other public institutions should be made on merit by independent bodies free of “protocol” and “cronyism.”
He also stated that working conditions in the military should be “reasonably attractive” in order to encourage employees to give their all in the performance of their duties.
Justice Atuguba stated that public perception of the judiciary’s work is critical to instilling trust in democracy, and he urged the courts to be consistent in their rulings in accordance with the spirit and letter of the law.
“The duty of the court is to do justice and the court should not be turned away from doing justice,” the judge said.