A legal practitioner and leading member of the National Democratic Congress, Dr. Alex Segbefia has expressed worry over the failure of the Cape Coast High Court to provide some clarity on certain legal contentions, in its judgment against the NDC’s Joe Gyaakye Quayson.
Mr. Segbefia told Accra-based Citi News that the court failed to distinguish between citizenship and allegiance, however, citing that “no lower court deals with constitutional interpretation.”
The Cape Coast High Court on Wednesday ordered a fresh run of the parliamentary election in the Assin North constituency after the Court of Appeal on Tuesday filed an application by the legislator for a stay of execution in the case.
Before the polls in December 2020, a group that called itself ‘Concerned Citizens of Assin North’ served a petition to the Electoral Commission in the Central Region, requesting that the candidature of Mr. Quayson be withdrawn on the basis of his allegiance to Canada.
In the aftermath of the elections in which Mr. Quayson was declared the winner, a resident of the constituency, Michael Ankomah-Nimfa petitioned the Cape Coast High Court to declare the election of Mr. Quayson as null and void.
The NDC however maintained that the lawmaker only held allegiance to Ghana, noting that he had applied to renounce his Canadian citizenship on December 17, 2019. However, they argued that administrative processes were concluded after he had filed to contest the polls. Consequently, his renunciation certificate was made available in November 2020.
The High Court presided over by Justice Kwasi Boakye however ruled that the NDC candidate breached the provisions of the constitution, regarding holders of dual citizenship. Article 94(2)(a) holds that “a person shall not be qualified to be a member of Parliament if he owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana.”
For Mr. Segbefia, this is to be separated from a person who holds dual citizenship, a position he believes the court should have made or clarified clearly.
He argued that the framers of the constitution chose those words because they recognize a difference between citizenship and allegiance, a development the NDC expected would guide the delivery of the court’s judgment.
“…showing that our constitution actually sees a difference between citizenship and allegiance and therefore, based on that, we expected the ruling to give some guidance on that,” he noted.
Consequently, Mr. Segbefia has hinted that the NDC would pursue clarity on this matter.
“For further clarity, we think that it is important that we should go back to court and get some clarity from the Supreme Court on the interpretation of how Article 94 actually operates.”