Some legal practitioners, including Kwame Osei Prempeh, who is a former Deputy Attorney-General, have expressed shock at the ‘baseless claims’ being made by the opposition National Democratic Congress(NDC) against the ongoing criminal prosecution of James Gyakye Quayson, MP for Assin North.
The embattled MP is facing three charges of false declaration of office, perjury and deceiving a public officer.
Speaking on Oman FM last week, Mr Osei Prempeh was particularly surprised at the utterances of the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, who claims the NDC MP is being prosecuted because the government wants to reduce the number of opposition MPs to enable it pass the E-Levy Bill.
Referring to the case of the late Adamu Sakande, he wondered how a lawyer of the stature of the Minority Leader could be making such claims.
On Friday July 27, 2012, the late MP for Bawku Central, Adamu Dramani Sakande, was sentenced to two years in prison by a High Court after being found guilty of false declaration of office, perjury and deceiving a public officer.
The late MP was elected in 2008 to represent the people Bawku Central in the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic, winning the seat back from the NDC’s Mahama Ayariga.
On July 31, 2009, he was charged with nine counts of perjury, forgery of passport, election fraud, false declaration of office and deceit of public officer before the High Court.
The charges were based on a complaint made to the police by Sumaila Bielbiel, a cattle dealer from Bawku, who had challenged his status as the MP for Bawku Central in a civil suit.
The case of the complaint was that the late MP had contested and won the 2008 elections as the MP for Bawku Central at a time when he had multiple nationalities.
He had argued that, in spite of his multiple nationalities, the late MP, in making his application to contest the election in 2008, made false declarations to the effect that he did not owe allegiance to any other country apart from Ghana.
On July 8, 2010, he was acquitted on six of the counts, and asked to open his defence on three counts of false declaration of office, perjury and deceit of public officer.
On July 27, 2012, he was convicted by the High Court on three counts of false declaration of office, perjury and deceit of public officer, and jailed for two years on each of the counts, which were to run concurrently.
Gyakye in similar case
What appears to surprise many people is that even though the NDC found everything right with the jailing of the late MP, the party now sees everything wrong with the legal processes involving the disputed Assin North MP, who is facing five counts of criminal offences in a similar fashion as was the case of the late Adamu Sakande.
Mr. Gyakye Quayson is facing criminal charges of deceit of public officer, contrary to Section 251 (b) of the Criminal offences Act, 1960, Act 29; forgery of passport or travel certificate, contrary to Section 15 (1)(b) of Passports and Travel Certificates Act, 1967 (NLCD 155); and knowingly making a false statutory declaration, in contravention of the Statutory Declarations Act, 1971, Act 389.
He also faces perjury as per Section 210 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29; and false declaration for office as against section 248 of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29.
The Supreme Court, last week, was unable to consider an injunction application against him to stop him from carrying out his duties as a Member of Parliament.
According to the facts of the case, Mr. Quayson signed a Ghana passport application form on July 26, 2019, in which he professed Ghanaian citizenship, while stating that he did not hold any other citizenship.
He is however said to have held Canadian citizenship, issued to him on October 30, 2016. The state, according to the processes sighted, says James Gyakye Quayson failed to declare the same on his application form.
The state contends that though his Ghanaian passport application form was vetted on July 29, 2019, he was issued with a Ghanaian passport (number G2538667) on August 2, 2019 based on the false information, together with other pieces of information he provided.
The state again contends that before the December 7, 2020 general elections, Mr. Quayson picked up nomination forms to contest the Assin North seat at the time he held both Ghanaian and Canadian citizenship.
He was, thus, accordingly disqualified under Article 94(2)(a) of the 1992 Constitution, but stood on a statutory declaration sworn to on October 6, 2020, before the Assin Fosu District Court, stating that he did not owe allegiance to any country other than Ghana, to file his nomination forms on October 8, 2020 with the false information in the statutory declaration.
Mr. Quayson, according to the state, was however issued a Certificate of Renunciation of his Canadian citizenship (dated 26th November 2020), about forty-eight days after he had made the false statutory declaration and filed his nomination forms.