It is common in Ghana to hear the phrase “the law is no respecter of persons”, but Ghana’s Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin disagrees.
According to the experienced politician, in Ghana, “so many people are above the law.”
The Speaker made this comment during a visit to the office of Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) in Accra to meet with management and the editorial staff, as part of his efforts to strengthen Parliament-Media Relations.
While commenting on the decision of the High Court to resort to a daily trial for the Assin North Member of Parliament-elect, James Gyakye Quayson, Mr Bagbin said it was not right for the court to put Mr Quayson through that process following the perjury and forgery charges brought against him by the state.
He said the decision appears selective, particularly when no case has been handled in this manner.
“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,” Mr Bagbin said.
He added that “the law is no respecter of any person; that is one of the errors in our 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.”
The speaker called on the public to, as a result, support calls for a constitutional review emphasizing that “it is something we must take up.”
The Accra High Court presided over by Justice Mary Yanzuh has ruled that the trial of the opposition NDC’s James Gyakye Quayson will be heard on daily basis starting from July 4, 2023.
The court ruled that its June 16 order announcing this arrangement was within the law and a case for a review had not been made.
The decision was protested by many including the MP-elect’s legal team.
However, the court maintained that “adjournments are at the discretion of the court and not the convenience of parties. The order of this court was clearly in line with the law. Nowhere was it demonstrated that the order was contrary to law.”
“His rights have not been violated by the court for refusing not to give him time to campaign. Mere refusal of the court does not constitute denial of right to fair trial,” the judge stated.
Mr Quayson is being tried for forgery and perjury after he was charged by the Attorney-General’s Office.
He is also accused of deceiving a public officer and knowingly making a false declaration when he filed nominations to contest in the 2020 election when he had not renounced his Canadian citizenship.
This followed a Supreme Court ruling that the Electoral Commission acted unconstitutionally in allowing Mr Quayson to contest the 2020 parliamentary election without proof of him renouncing his Canadian Citizenship.
The apex court in its ruling ordered parliament to expunge James Gyakye Quayson’s name from its records as a Member of Parliament. It further declared that his election was unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect. His swearing-in was equally declared to be unconstitutional.
Following the ruling, his seat was declared vacant and a by-election was held Tuesday, on June 27.
Mr Gyalye Quayson won the by-elections with 17,245 votes representing 57.56% of valid votes.
His main rival, Charles Opoku of the New Patriotic Party polled 12,630 or 42.15% of valid votes to place second, while Liberal Party of Ghana’s Bernice Enam Sefanu polled only 87 votes or 0.29%.
Speaking to JoyNews about his victory, Mr Gyakye Quayson said the electorates in his constituency cannot be swayed by the governing New Patriotic Party.
“When it comes to the people of Assin North, nothing can break us apart. And if they (NDC) want to go for a by-election 10 times, I will win 10 times. I can assure you that.
“They are not in for money, they are in for real development and what I can say is that I am the first gentleman of Assin North now,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, he has filed a motion on notice at the High Court for stay of proceedings, pending an appeal.