Judgement on whether the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, erred when he did not swear an oath as acting president when the president, John Dramani Mahama and his vice, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, were both out of the country on official duties would be delivered on December 3, 2015 by the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo.
A nine-member panel of Supreme Court judges would be ruling on a suit filed by the Chief Executive Officer of Citi FM, Samuel Atta-Mensah that seeks to urge the court to declare as unconstitutional, the Speaker’s decision not to be sworn in as President before acting in that capacity.
The Speaker has on two separate occasions, refused to take the oath of office, while the President and his vice, were on official assignments.
When the case was called for hearing, the speaker was absent, but the presiding judge told the court that the registrar had said the speaker was yet to receive the hearing notice despite the writ being served. The defendants are the Attorney General’s department and the Speaker of Parliament.
The presiding judge told the plaintiff to file their legal submissions within 14 days and the defendants must respond within 14 days if they so wish.
Mr. Adjaho stuck to his decision despite a letter from the President to the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood to swear him in as President.
Though the Speaker is reported to have consulted with the Chief Justice and the Chief Legislative Draft person of the Attorney General’s office in making his decision, Lawyer for Samuel Atta-Mensah, Nii Apatu Plange said Mr. Adjaho “erred,” and that the only body mandated to interpret the constitution is the Supreme Court.
“Anything that has to do with the constitution must be decided by the Supreme Court and no other body. So if the constitution says the speaker shall swear the oath then that is what he must do,” he told Citi Breakfast Show host Bernard Avle in 2014.
The Speaker on November 7, 2014 told members on the floor that he did not see why he should take another oath when he had taken a similar oath a year ago.
When the news broke, the Majority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak said the Speaker was ready to be sworn in, but it was rather the idea of the Chief Justice not to swear-in the Speaker because the latter had already taken the oath in September 2013 when the president and his vice were out of the country.
Speaker was right-GBA
The Ghana Bar Association defended the decision of the Speaker not to take the oath of office again as acting president.
The president of the Association, Nene Amegatcher, in an interview with the media insisted the Speaker was right in declining the offer to be sworn into office to act as president in the absence of the president and his vice from Ghana.
Article 60 (11) and (12) of the 1992 Constitution states that: “(11) Where the President and the Vice-President are both unable to perform the functions of the President, the Speaker of Parliament shall perform those functions until the President or the Vice-President is able to perform those functions or a new President assumes office, as the case may be. (12) The Speaker shall, before commencing to perform the functions of the President under clause (11) of this article, take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the office of President.”
The panel prior to adjourning the case consolidated an analogous suit before it by a US-based Ghanaian lawyer, Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare.
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