Regional News

Supreme Court clears the way for Western chiefs to hold fresh election

Bearing any last minute hitches, the election of the Western Regional House of Chiefs (WRHC) would come off soon, following a decision by the Supreme Court to strike out an application brought before it over a disputed election.

Awulae Angamtuo Gyan, Omanhene of Gwira and Obrempong Hima Dekyi, Omanhene of Upper Dixcove, who are the applicants in the suit before the SC, were seeking for an Order of Certiorari to quash a Sekondi High Court ruling, that quashed the said disputed election of the WRHC.

The suit has the WRHC as 1st Interested Party, the Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC) as 2nd Interested Party, Tetretteh Okuamoah Sekyim as 3rd Interested Party and Awulae Amihere Kpanyile as 4th Interested Party.

The said disputed election held on October 6, 2020 saw Okuamoah Tetretteh Sekyim, Omanhene of Wassa Akropong elected as president of the House, Angamatuo Gyan as Vice president and five others elected as members of the National House of Chiefs (NHC).

But the Omanhene of Eastern Nzema Traditional Area, Awulae Amihere Kpanyile III, challenged the disputed election by a judicial review in the nature of certiorari, resulting in a  Sekondi High Court presided, over by Justice Cynthia Wiredu, quashing the results of the said election.

Unsatisfied, Tetretteh Okuamoah Sekyim, Angamatuo Gyan and Hima Dekyi filed for a Stay of Execution at the Court of Appeal in Cape Coast, but their prayers were rejected because they failed to demonstrate how holding fresh elections would affect them.

The Supreme Court

A day to the holding of the fresh elections at the House, Tetretteh Okuamoah Sekyim, Hima Dekyi and Angamatuo Gyan filed a fresh suit, this time praying another Sekondi High Court to compel the Registrar of the WRHC and the NHC to swear in Angamatuo Gyan and five other members elected into the NHC.

Their reason was that, the election of the Vice President and that of the five members into the NHC were separate and distinct from the president of the House. Their reason was also that the election of the Vice and the five into the NHC was not in contention. Thus, their prayer to the Sekondi High Court, presided over by Justice Dr. Richmond Osei Hwere, to compel the Registrar of the WRHC and the NHC to swear in the two.

Justice Dr. Richmond Osei Hwere, however, struck out the motion as prayed by the three.

Still not satisfied, Angamatuo Gyan and Hima Dekyi went to the Supreme Court praying the apex Court by judicial review in a nature of certiorari to quash Justice Hannah Wiredu’s ruling that quashed the October 206, 20 disputed election of the House.

The two, who are applicants in the suit before the SC challenged the ruling on grounds of what they described as breach of natural justice and error of the law manifested on the record.

In an affidavit accompanying the writ and deposed by the applicant, they said the election to select the president of the Western region House of Chiefs, Vice president and elected representatives to the National House of Chiefs, were held on October 6, 2020 under the supervision of the 2nd Interested Party.

 

They contended that even though the election was held on the same day, the vice president category was different from that of the President and elected representatives categories.

That the 1st interested party and the 1st Applicant were both declared president and vice president elect of the WRHC by the 2nd Interested Party and were both duly sworn in.

That the 1st and 2nd Applicants were not parties to the 4th Interested Party’s suit and that the judge who sat on the judicial review application did not on her own accord order the 1st and 2nd applicant to be joined as parties.

 

The Applicant contended that notwithstanding the fact that they were directly affected by the reliefs sought by 4th Interested Party, the Judge ruled and made orders quashing all the various categories of the 6th October 2020 elections, including those won without giving the applicants the opportunity  to be heard.

For this reason, the applicants argued in their suit before the SC that the Judge order injuncting and same quashing the 1st and 2nd Applicants elections without first giving the Applicants the opportunity to be heard, was breach of the rules of natural justice with specific reference to the audi alterem partem.

 

As a result, the judge (Cynthia Wiredu) committed grave error on the face of the record by failing to issue an order to join the Applicants herein to join as parties to the 4th interested party judicial review application, as well as making consequential orders without first hearing the applicants.

AFFIDAVIT IN OPSITION

But in an affidavit in opposition to the application, Awulae Amihere Kpanyile III, who is the 4th Interested Party argued that the SC lacked jurisdiction to entertain the application on grounds that it breached the SC 90 day rule.

He went on to argue that Applicants should have appealed against Cynthia Wiredu’s Sekondi High Court ruling, if they were dissatisfied and that the present application before the SC was improper in law and an abuse of judicial process.

“The grounds upon which the application is founded are frivolous, vexatious and unmeritorious, and the application should be dismissed”, 4th Interested Party argued through his Counsel.

But even before the SC panel, headed by the Chief Justice, could go into the merit of the suit, Counsel for the applicant withdrew the application, forcing the Court to strike it out.

The five member panel who sat on the case were; Justices Annin Yeboah, Gabriel Pwamang, Mariama Owusu (Mrs), I.G. Tanko Amadu and Prof. Mensah Bonsu.

With the suit withdrawn and same struck out by the Supreme Court, it means there is currently no suit pending before the Court, as a result, the way has been cleared for the election of the President, Vice president and five members onto the NHC.

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