Growing up one thing I learnt was that when everything looks complicated and complex just go to the basics and apply basic principles and everything will begin to fall into place.
It seems to me that because politics is such a serious business especially in our part of the world everything surrounding elections is taken so serious such that even simple things look so complicated.
I’ve seen a petition filed by a mason but obviously represented by a lawyer challenging the election of the Assin North MP elect and I describe the candidate as MP elect because he is only an mp elect at this stage and nothing else.
As far as I am concerned this case should not drag on because although it may look complicated it’s one of the easiest cases for me to handle as a lawyer.
All what the lawyers for the mp elect have to do is to define who an mp is and that should basically settle the matter.
A reading of the constitution and the electoral laws does not in anyway disqualify the mp elect.
This is what the law says:
Art. 94 (2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution states:
“A person shall not be qualified to be a member of parliament if he (a) owes allegiance to any other country other than Ghana.”
This provision of the constitution is repeated verbatim in the necessary electoral law.
In my humble opinion the law on who can be an mp among other things is not to owe allegiance to any other country except Ghana.
So the question is at what stage does this law become applicable? Is it at the time of filing of the nomination to stand for the elections or at the time the person is to be sworn in as an mp after the elections?
I think the law is very clear and to make it easy for all of us who an mp is has to be defined.
For the lack of time I’ll put forward my own definition.
Who is an mp? An mp in my humble opinion is a person sworn into office as an mp after having taken the oath as an mp. An mp elect is not an mp. The constitution and the electoral laws does not in any way state that before you stand to be elected you shouldn’t owe an allegiance to any other country except Ghana. See paragraph 11 onwards of the petition. What it actually says is that “a person doesn’t qualify as an mp”. It doesn’t say”qualify as mp elect”. So what it means is that you can only qualify after the elections and you have been duly elected. And the emphasis is qualify as an mp.
What we have to remember is that until the person is sworn in as an mp he’s not an mp even though already elected.
So what I believe the law says is that If at the time the person is sworn in as an mp he owes allegiance to any other country then of course he doesn’t qualify.
As far as I am concerned If in between the election and being sworn in he has renounced his citizenship to another country he qualifies to be sworn in as an mp.
The petition as I see it is just pedantic, overly technical, limiting and unprogressive which does not serve any useful purpose aside to just seek to take advantage of a law whose interpretation does not need any mechanical calibration or engineering.
Let’s take a look at it from another angle. A person may apply for a job. Is he an employee at the time of the application? The answer is No. Good.
If he is called for an interview is he an employee? The obvious answer is No. Good.
Even when he is offered an employment letter he is still not an employee until he accepts the offer of employment.
So the fact that he puts in an application or goes for interview doesn’t make the person an employee.
Simply put an applicant is not an employee until he is appointed as such but more importantly if he’s required to have a particular certificate which he doesn’t have at the time of the application but produces it at the time of the interview would you say he was disqualified from applying in the first place?
Companies list their requirements but that does not mean if you have it you become an employee automatically.
Also if you did not have a particular requirement at the time of the application but can produce it subsequently you are good to go if you satisfy the other requirements.
So the case of the petitioner that the respondent did not owe allegiance to Ghana at the time of him filing his nomination even if true cannot disbar him at this stage because he’s already elected and as long as he can show that he has renounced his citizenship before he is sworn in he is entitled to be sworn in as the mp and it is perfectly legal and proper in my humble opinion.
At this stage the Assin North parliamentary candidate of the NDC is not an mp and that’s why he cannot go to parliament now until the new parliament is inaugurated. It is at this stage that he becomes an mp.
Indeed it must be added that even after a person actually becomes an mp, that is after he has been sworn in, he can still be removed if it is found that at the time he took his oath as an mp he owed allegiance to another country other than Ghana.
As far as I am concerned the petitioner is just frolicking with the law.
I’ll be happy to see the response of the 1st Respondent MP Elect to the petition against him.