April 24, 2024

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, has expressed his dissatisfaction with the High Court’s decision to hear the criminal case of James Gyakye Quayson, the Member of Parliament-elect for the Assin North Constituency, on a daily basis, insisting “It is not right”.

“I tell them, and I tell the judges, it is not right. If it is done to everybody, I have no problem, but if it is done selectively, I have a problem.”

The Speaker’s comments come as Tsatsu Tsikata, lead counsel for Mr Gyakye Quayson, yesterday went to the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, challenging the daily trial order for his client by an Accra High Court judge, Justice Mary Yanzuh.

A portion of his affidavit, said the ruling of the court had taken a political turn with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo making prejudicial comments on the back of the ruling.

The move by Mr Tsikata and the other lawyers, is to ensure that the MP-elect gets a fair trial in the criminal case he is facing.

Mr Bagbin, a lawyer by profession, had described the decision as selective, pointing out that it is unfair to subject Gyakye Quayson to a daily trial, while others are not facing the same treatment.

During a visit to the office of Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) in Accra yesterday, Mr Bagbin emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law and stated that the current approach seems to be “rule by law” rather than “rule of law.”

The meeting with management and the editorial staff

The Speaker’s working visit to Graphic was to interact with management and staff at the editorial department.

It is the first official visit of the Speaker to a media organisation since he was elected Speaker of Parliament on January 7, 2021. This is aligned with the Speaker’s desire to strengthen Parliament-Media Relations.

“What we are doing is rule by law, not rule of law, and I think that we should move away from that. For democracy to succeed, the pillar is the rule of law. I tell them, and I tell the judges, it is not right. If it is done to everybody, I have no problem but if it is done selectively, I have a problem.”

“The law is not the centre of democracy, that is one of the errors in our [1992] constitution, read through our constitution and you’ll see the law is a respecter of so many people.

“So many people in Ghana are above the law. You can’t have democracy [with that] and so we need to work at it seriously and this [is why] the constitutional review is something we must take up.”

In an affidavit signed by Justin Pwara Teriwajah, Quayson’s lawyer argued that the High Court judge in her ruling to allow daily trial for their client commited “errors of law.”

He said the president had emphasized a comment by his Attorney General to the effect that Gyakye Quayson had been irresponsible in opting to contest for a parliamentary seat when he was facing criminal charges.

The part on Akufo-Addo read: “That, apparently emboldened by the ruling of the court on 23rd June 2023, the extremely prejudicial, unjustified and insulting remarks of the Attorney-General were escalated to the level of the president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

“That, at a campaign rally for the candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the said President made many prejudicial remarks, including some to the effect that the voters in Assin North Constituency should not vote for a candidate who could end up in prison.”

It went on to provide a GhanaWeb link to the said comments and stated that the accused will seek leave of the court to play a video clip of the remarks of Akufo-Addo at the said rally.

In the substantive case, Quayson’s lawyers filed an application for Stay of Proceedings pending the determination of his appeal on grounds of several errors of law committed by the trial judge which breached Quayson’s right to a fair trial.

Despite standing trial for five charges, the MP-elect stood for and won the June 27 by-election according to the Electoral Commission’s announcement, he garnered a total of 17,245 votes, representing 57.56% of the total votes cast.

His closest contender, Charles Opoku of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), received 12,630 votes, accounting for 42.15% of the votes.

Bernice Enyonam Sefenu of the Liberal Party Ghana (LPG) secured 87 votes, which represented 0.29% of the overall tally.

The by-election in Assin North was held to fill the parliamentary seat left vacant following a legal battle that questioned Quayson’s eligibility to hold office due to dual citizenship concerns.

The High Court in Accra yesterday, adjourned to July 4 an application for a stay of proceedings of the criminal trial.

The trial Judge, Justice Mary Yanzuh said the adjournment was because the court had not received the full compliments of the application documents.

The lawyers of Mr Quayson argue that the application is to stay proceedings in the High Court so that the Court of Appeal can determine whether or not the High Court was right to rule that Gyakye Quayson’s criminal trial be heard on a daily basis.

A member of Gyakye Quayson’s legal team Sammy Gyamfi spoke to the press after the proceedings and said the defence team needs ample time to cross-examine the first witness and other matters resolved before the case is formally commenced.

“Lawyers for the accused need ample time to cross-examine the first witness, and it is totally unacceptable for Her Ladyship to say that cross-examination should be done on a daily basis and should be restricted to certain limited time periods, we don’t think that affords the accused a fair hearing and that is why we are raising all these issues”.

Mr Gyamfi, also indicated that the application is to ensure that the rights of Mr Quayson are not violated as guaranteed by the constitution.

“Lawyers for Quayson are trying to avoid a kangaroo trial, a situation where things are hurried at the expense of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of accused persons that lawyers for Quayson are trying to avoid for which reason they have filed this appeal challenging the ruling of the trial judge and pending the determination of this matter, have filed the stay of proceedings, and we are looking forward to having the opportunity on the 4th of July to move the application formally, and it is our hope that the judge will do the right thing and abide the determination of the appeal before proceeding with this matter.”

Meanwhile, the MP-elect for Assin North is expected to be sworn into Parliament today, Friday, June 30,   after Parliament receives the necessary writ from the Electoral Commission on the election of Gyakye Quayson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: The Herald

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