Supreme Court overrules Tsatsu Tsikata’s objection, sets date for ruling

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    The Apex Court of Ghana has set January 5, 2021 to decide the fate of embattled Member of Parliament-Elect for Hohoe, John Peter Amewu.

    The panel of judges said it will at cost deliver its ruling after it had considered and dismissed preliminary objection of bias raised by Lawyer Tsatsu Tsikata, counsel for the Interested Parties including the NDC Candidate for the just ended Parliamentary elections. 

    On Tuesday, 29th December 2020, the Attorney-General filed a suit at the Supreme Court seeking to quash an order of the High Court presided over by Justice George Buadi., which amongst others, restrains Peter Amewu from presenting himself to be sworn in as a Member of Parliament.

    The order was made pursuant to an ex parte application filed and argued by Tsatsu Tsikata, a legal practitioner on behalf of voters residing in Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Akpafu in the Ho High Court. In the said motion he argued that by C.I. 95 they were deemed to be part of the Hohoe Constitutency and ought to have voted for the Parliamentary Candidate of Hohoe. The Energy Minister, Mr John Peter Amewu is therefore a beneficiary of their violated rights and should not be allowed to benefit from such violations until they are made to vote.

    In the suit filed in the Supreme Court, the Attorney General argued that the Order which was meant to prevent the Electoral Commission from gazetting Hohoe Parliamentary Election constituted a patent error and the trial judge lacked jurisdiction to hear the said case.

    “The High Court has no jurisdiction under article 33 of the Constitution to entertain a matter in the nature of a parliamentary election petition and to grant any relief(s) interim, interlocutory or final, available in a parliamentary election commended under article 99 and section 16 of the Representation of the People’s Law, 1992 (PNDC 284)”.

    But before the Court could hear the case brought before it, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata raised objection against Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga being a member of the Panel. Mr. Tsikata argued that the Honourable Judge has a long standing close relationship with Mr. Peter Amewu and as such cannot be a judge in this matter. The judge in open court refuted the said allegation and mentioned in the open court that he had no relationship with the said Peter Amewu.

    The Learned Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Dame, opposed the application for the recusal of Justice Honyenuga.He argued that it is factually incorrect for Mr Tsikata to say that the Application has been brought on behalf of MrAmewu and further stated that the objection raised by Mr. Tsikata was frivolous and only intended to waste time. He concluded by submitting that Mr. Tsikata had failed to adduce any evidence to discharge the test of the real likelihood of bias and in case Mr. Amewu was not a party to the proceedings before the Supreme Court. The Court dismissed the objection and directed the AG to move the motion.

    Before the AG could move his motion, Mr. Tsikata indicated to the court that he had another objection relating to C.I. 128 attached to the motion filed by the AG. The court directed him to argue his objection together with his response to the substantive action before the court.

    The AG proceeded to move his application submitting that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter because it was an election petition in substance clothed as a human rights matter. He further argued that the rights of the interested parties if any accrued in Buem Constituency and not Hohoe Constituency by reason of C.I. 128. He concluded that the orders made by the trial High Court in Ho were unlawful and invited the court to quash same and prohibit the trial court from further hearing of the case.

    Mr. Tsikata in opposing the application arguing on the unconstitutionality of C.I 128, relying heavily on the reported case of MEKKAOUI V. MINISTER OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS 1981 GLR to advance his arguments.

    The court adjourned the case to 5th January 2021 for ruling and further directed Mr Tsikata to file further supplementary affidavit and statement of case on the unconstitutionality of C.I. 128  if he so desires by 8.30am before the court gives its ruling at 12.000. The President of the Court indicated that the ruling of the court would still be delivered tomorrow irrespective of the processes that may be filed by the interested parties.

    This case is coming on a historic note. For the first time in the history of Ghana’s Parliament, the two leading political parties who have representatives in the House, have equal numbers, with one independent candidate.

    While others have tipped the independent candidate from Fomena to exercise the deciding vote when the House is split on equal numbers during voting, others suggest that the delicate Parliament constrict the Executive from having its bills approved.

    It even gets worse as the opposition party; NDC keeps mounting challenges on some parliamentary seats, including the Hohoe seat, currently held by the ruling party.

    It is feared that if these challenges succeed, not only will the government struggle to marshal the needed numbers to votes in favour of its bills,Parliamentmay be superintended by a speaker and a majority leader from the opposition party.

    In context, this makes the outcome of the Supreme Court case so crucial as its outcome does not affect only the politics of Hohoe but the entire country.