FA SEKONDI High Court has ordered the Member of Parliament (MP) for Jomoro in the Western Region, Dorcas Affo-Toffey, to produce a document or documents showing that she indeed renounced her Ivorian citizenship before filing to contest the 2020 parliamentary election.
The court asked the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP to comply with the order in 10 days, starting from yesterday.
A resident of Nuba-Mpataba in the Jomoro District, Joshua Emuah Kofie, has filed a writ at a Sekondi High Court challenging the MP for the area to produce evidence of her renounced dual citizenship in court.
According to the applicant, the MP was not qualified to contest as the people’s representative in the legislature as at the time she filed her papers.
He alleged that the MP was holding multiple nationalities – American and Ivorian citizenships, which he said, violates the 1992 Constitution.
However, the MP has denied having an American citizenship, but had an Ivorian citizenship which she said she renounced before entering the contest.
The applicant through his legal representative, Frank Davies, therefore prayed the court to grant an order to inspect documents indicating Mrs. Affo-Toffey indeed renounced her Ivorian citizenship before filing to contest the 2020 parliamentary election.
In his statement of claim, the applicant averred that the MP held an Ivorian and American citizenship at the time of filing the nomination forms opened by the Electoral Commission between October 5 and 9, 2020 in breach of the rules.
During the last court sitting, Bright Okyere Agyekum, who stood in for Frank Davies, counsel for the applicant, noted that the MP in her affidavit in opposition had averred that she had never been an American citizen.
He said the MP, however, admitted that she was an Ivorian citizen but renounced her Ivorian citizenship before she filed her nomination to contest the December 2020 parliamentary elections in the Jomoro Constituency.
He told the court that the onus lied on the MP to prove that indeed she renounced her Ivorian citizenship by producing the certificate or any document evidencing her renunciation.
“I believe that if the 1st respondent mounts the box for cross-examination, the burden would be on her to produce the documents to confirm her renunciation before contesting for the Jomoro seat,” he pointed out.
Quoting some of the laws on application for discoveries and inspection to buttress his argument, the plaintiff’s counsel prayed the court to make an order directed at the MP to produce the said documents for his inspection.
For his part, Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe, representing the MP, noted that the matter has already received judicial pronouncement by a high court in the Bilson versus Rawlings and another case.
He said in that case, the nationality of former President Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was challenged and that the plaintiff asserted that Rawlings had not renounced his nationality as a Scottish.
“In Bilson versus Rawlings and another in 1993-94, Bilson sought an injunction against Rawlings and the Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) known today as the Electoral Commission (EC), restraining both defendants from taking further steps in connection with the nomination of Rawlings as the presidential candidate of the NDC for the presidential elections,” he told the court.
He said in that case the court indicated that Rawlings’ membership of the Ghana Armed Forces and the fact that he had twice been Head of State of Ghana meant that he had on several occasions, sworn oaths of allegiance to the Republic of Ghana.
He then alluded that before the MP for Jomoro contested the seat, she swore an oath of allegiance to the Republic of Ghana and that was enough proof that she had renounced her Ivorian citizenship.
He said if the applicant wanted documents to prove that the 1st respondent had renounced her citizenship then the institution to contact was the 2nd respondent, the EC.
However, the counsel for the plaintiff rebutted and said the Bilson versus Rawlings’ case preceded the Citizenship Act, 2000 (Act 591) and so under the new law the MP must produce documents to prove her case.
The court then adjourned the case to yesterday for ruling on the matter to pave way for the substantive case to continue.
In its ruling, the court, presided over by Dr. Richmond Osei Hwere said among other things that one cannot make an oral announcement renouncing his or her citizenship without going through a formal process.
It said, “Our Citizenship Act, 2005, Act 591 regulates how citizenship is lost by Renunciation.”
The court mentioned that there is documentation relative to renunciation of citizenship under Ghanaian law and by virtue of Section 40 of the Evidence Act 1975, it is presumed that the law is the same as the Ivorian law.
The court therefore, said if the respondent says she renounced her Ivorian citizenship, then there should be existing documents to that effect.
The court then ordered that the MP should produce the documents evidencing her renunciation for the purpose of inspection in 10 days.
The MP for Jomoro was not present in court but was represented by one Emmanuel Benle and the respondent’s lawyer was also represented by lawyer Ebo Donkor.
From Emmanuel Opoku, Sekondi