On 23rd December, Justice George Buadi, a High Court judge in Ho, granted a strange injunction to stop the gazetting of Peter Amewu as MP-elect of Hohoe. The gazetting had already taken place the previous day. So the injunction was of no effect but still an order of the court!
In making the case for the injunction, Tsatsu Tsikata argued that residents of Santrofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi, communities which were previously part of Hohoe constituency, were only allowed to vote for a presidential candidate and not for an MP in 2020 and that was a breach of their constitutional right. For that matter, Mr Amewu was not legally elected, so even before the substantive matter is heard, the MP-elect must be stopped from holding himself as such.
It is what I call “Legashi” – or legal takashi. Knowing very well you have no case in law but using all the tricks in and out of the book to abuse and frustrate an otherwise proper process.
I say so for many reasons including the ff:
(1) There is a High Court in Hohoe, which should have been the proper forum for the plaintiffs’ lawyers to go. But they chose to go to Ho. Why?
(2) Incidentally, the judge they went before was, in his previous life, twice NDC MP for Amenfi East from 1993-2001. He curiously granted the injunction which was deliberately sought on the blind side of the other interested parties, namely the MP-elect, the Hohoe voters who had rightly exercised their franchise and the EC.
(3) The injunction was to stop something that had already taken place prior to the application. You cannot seek to stop the doing of a thing that is already done.
4) The Supreme Court had six months earlier ruled in another related case that the only place those same affected voters could vote since the creation of the Oti Region was in Oti Region and not Hohoe in the Volta Region. This is because the Constitution is clear that a constituency cannot fall into two regions and the decision to create a new region was constitutional even if it ended up splitting a constituency into two regions and that it was up to the EC to ensure, when the opportunity arises that the displaced voters eventually find a new constituency to vote. It is, therefore, not the fault of the MP-elect or the legal voters of Hohoe that the people of those affected communities did not have a constituency to vote in. It is legashi at its worst!
More so, curiously attached to the application argued by Mr Tsikata was the Supreme Court decision of 24th June, 2020, where the court ruled, per G Pwamang, JSC, and by a unanimous decision that “the traditional areas of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe, and Lolobi which fall within the Oti Region are stated to be part of the Hohoe Constituency which is in the Volta Region and to the extent of that inconsistency CI 96 (enacted in 2016 which placed the above areas within Hohoe) is unconstitutional… Accordingly, we order the Electoral Commission to amend CI 95 to bring it in conformity with CI 112 (which led to the creation of the Oti Region from Volta). Such amendment shall take effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament, that is after midnight of 6th January, 2021.” The ratio of the decision was that voters in the affected communities could no longer vote in Hohoe!
Later on the Guan District was created in Oti Region but not in time for the residents to have a new constituency created for them that would have allowed them to vote for a parliamentary candidate.
The phenomenon of some voters being limited to only participating in presidential elections is not new. Ghanaian diplomats posted overseas and international students are among the groups who ordinarily vote in presidential polls but not in parliamentary elections because they are deemed not to have constituencies.
To allow the plaintiffs who went to the Ho High Court to succeed with this blatant mischief over a case that has absolutely no chance of success on the substantive matter itself is a blatant and despicable abuse of the judicial process. It is the kind of legashi that should not be countenanced.
Why are they now seeking to serve Mr Amewu now with a fresh application? Well the ex parte order is about to expire (and will expire before 6th January) and they are desperate to stop Mr Amewu from adding to the seats held by the NPP. So Mr Tsikata’s clients seek to serve the MP-elect with a new application on notice which they hope will act to stop him from participating in the election of a new Speaker and being subsequently sworn in as the Member for Hohoe.
The truth is, whatever it is that they are seeking to do has no basis in law. It is a simple matter of using legashi to deny the NPP the majority of one needed to choose the next Speaker of Parliament and to sit on the majority side of the House. Mr Tsikata is experienced and knowledgable enough to know that his clients have no case. He intends to misuse the law to achieve an unlawful end.