The Supreme Court (SC) appears to have presented a Gordian Knot to Parliament, which the Legislative House is struggling to untie. The Apex Court’s ruling that, then Member of Parliament for Assin North, Mr. Gyakye Quayson was not qualified to contest the 2020 parliamentary elections and further direction that Parliament should expunge his name from its records, has placed the august House in a dilemma, as to which approach should be used in deleting Mr Gyakye’s name from parliament’s records.
Whilst some members argued that the directive from the SC means Mr Quayson’s name should not be in the records of Parliament with effect from the day the judgment was given, others interpreted it to mean that all records of Mr Quayson from January 7, 2021 should be deleted.
Flowing from this dilemma, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin indicated that a clarification will be sought to enable the House do the right thing. But in the interim, the Speaker noted that Mr Quayson’s name should not captured in the ‘Votes and Proceedings’ going forward.
The ‘Votes and Proceedings’ is the document which contains the official minutes of the proceedings of Parliament.
The document also contains record of attendance of members, announcement by the Speaker, papers presented to Parliament, all Orders and Resolutions of Parliament and, if a Division is conducted, the Division list.
It would be recalled that on May 17, the SC declared the election and swearing in of Mr Gyakye Quayson as unconstitutional and ordered his name to be expunged from the records of Parliament.
In following the order, Speaker Bagbin on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 asked MPs to come out with a suitable approach on how to expunge Mr Gyakye’s name from its records, since the act was novel.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu
However, on Thursday, May 8, 2023 MP for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, observed from the “Votes and Proceedings” of Wednesday June 7 that the deposed MP’s name was not captured.
Mr Ablakwa contended that if Mr Quayson’s name had not been captured in the Votes and Proceedings, then the supreme courts directives have been complied with and members need not to sit on the issue again, as directed by the Speaker.
This is what threw the house into a state of confusion, as to the true interpretation of the Supreme Court’s orders.
Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, MP for Suame
Commenting on the issue, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, noted that the import of the order was not to render all activities Mr Quayson participated in, whilst in Parliament as null and void.
The Majority Leader likened the Gyakye Quayson’s situation to a person who has been elected to serve on a Commission or Committee.
He said if it comes out that the person who sat on the Commission didn’t have the qualifications to sit on the Commission, that situation does not affect any decision of the Commission that the person participated in.
“Mr Speaker, so what is the import of this? Of course, it is constitutional that when a person is elected to serve on any Commission and it appears that the person was not qualified to sit on that Commission and he is thrown out, it will not affect any decision that the person participated in; that is constitutional. So I am not too sure that we should indulge ourselves in this,” he said.
Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central
Mr Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, also contended that the fact that a member’s legality is questioned does not nullify the activities the person had participated in the house.
To him, the directives of the SC are progressive and not retrospective.
“So far as I understand the decision of the Supreme Court, we are to move forward and not to move back. From the point when they gave the ruling, we expunge his name as a Member of Parliament. The Court could not have been ordering us to nullify every decision that he participated in,” Mr Ayariga said.
Mr Andy Appiah-Kubi, MP for Asante Akim North
The MP for Asante Akim North, Mr Andy Appiah-Kubi, was of a different opinion. He said the orders presuppose that the deposed MP should be treated as if he has not been in the house before. He based his argument on article 2(3) of the 1992 Constitution, which entreats citizens to strictly follow the orders of the Supreme Court.
Mr Appiah-Kubi warned the house to apply the law strictly, because any omission will attract punishment.