General News Tue, 24 Oct 2000

Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear case - Amidu

The Supreme Court will on November 15 rule on whether it has jurisdiction to hear a writ filed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) against two civil servants who have declared their intention to contest parliamentary elections while still at post.

This followed a preliminary objection made on Tuesday by Mr Martin Amidu, running mate of the NDC flagbearer and Deputy Attorney-General, that the import of the writ did not fall under the jurisdiction of the court.

The NPP on June 8 filed the writ challenging the eligibility of Mr Kofi Opoku-Manu, Chief Director, Ministry of Finance, and Mr Joseph Oteng-Agyei, Director, Ministry of Mines and Energy, for being nominated by the NDC to contest the parliamentary election.

According to the writ, Mr Opoku-Manu is to contest the Ashanti-Akyem North Constituency seat while Mr Oteng-Agyei will fight for the Bosomtwe Constituency seat. The writ described their action as "unconstitutional" because of their continued stay at post while campaigning to become parliamentarians.

It urged the court to exercise its exclusive jurisdiction by enforcing the constitutional provisions, which make civil servants who want to be elected to parliament to resign before going into politics. In his submissions, Mr Amidu contended that the writ is intended to be speculative because at the time it was filed, the defendants had neither submitted nor filed their nomination papers with the Electoral Commission.

He said his information before going to court showed that Mr Opoku-Manu had resigned but Mr Oteng-Agyei was still at post. Mr Amidu said the writ against Mr Opoku-Manu therefore becomes void.

He said the plaintiffs should have filed an election petition and invoked the People's Representation Law of 1992 and Public Elections Regulations administered by the EC instead of sending the matter to the Supreme Court.

Nana Akufo-Addo, Counsel for the NPP, said the import of the writ is to urge the court to enforce the constitutional provision which prohibits civil servants who campaign to be elected to parliament while at post.

He submitted that the writ seeks to urge the court, which has exclusive jurisdiction of enforcing or interpreting the provisions of the constitution, to make a pronouncement.

Source: GNA