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Opinions of Thursday, 17 July 2014

Columnist: Asare, Kwaku S.

Unlawful Activities of Constitution Review Implementation Committee


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Statement on the Unlawful Activities of Professor Oware Dankwa and the Constitution Review Implementation Committee

My attention has been drawn to an article posted on your website on July 16, 2014, titled “Do you want the Death Penalty abolished?” In the said article, Professor Emmanuel Victor Dankwah, Chairman of the so called Constitution Review Implementation Committee, is reported to have addressed a forum in Kumasi where he explained that Ghanaians will answer questions on the death penalty during an upcoming referendum.

I wish to bring it to the attention of the general public that Professor Dankwah and his so called Constitution Review Implementation Committee have no power under the laws of Ghana to schedule a referendum and/or to amend the Constitution of Ghana.

It is common knowledge that the Constitution can only be amended by its terms. It is also well known that Parliament is the sole body that can initiate, consider and propose amendments to the Constitution. Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution is not only plenary and exclusive but also cannot be delegated to or usurped by the President, the so-called Constitution Reform Commission or the Constitution Review Implementation Committee. Further, it is trite knowledge that the President’s role in constitutional amendment is limited to the ministerial task of giving assent to bills properly passed by Parliament.

We maintain, as we have from 2010, that the President has no power to set up a commission to initiate amendments or draft amendment bills to the Constitution. To the extent that the President has usurped Parliamentary powers and misappropriated Article 278(1) to traverse the amendment architecture emplaced by Chapter 25 of the Constitution, C.I. 64 setting up the Constitution Review Commission, all actions taken by the Commission, the establishment of the Constitution Review and Implementation Committee and all its actions remain unlawful, unconstitutional, impermissible, null, void and of no effect.

As Professor Dankwah and his Committee should be aware, the Supreme Court of Ghana has been asked to issue an order directing the President, the Chairman and Members of the Constitution Review Commission, the Chairman and Members of the Constitution Review Implementation Committee, the Attorney General, their deputies, agents, or employees or any other servant or agent of the Republic to permanently cease and desist from taking any actions that seek to amend or otherwise disturb the Constitution in so far as such actions are inconsistent with Chapter 25 of the Constitution (writ # J1/12/2014).

Moreover, during the pendency of the litigation before the Supreme Court of Ghana, the President, the Chairman and Members of the Constitution Review Commission, the Chairman and Members of the Constitution Review Implementation Committee, the Attorney General, their deputies, agents, or employees or any other servant or agent of the Republic are required to cease and desist from taking any actions that seek to amend or otherwise disturb the Constitution, in so far as such actions are inconsistent with chapter 25 of the Constitution.

Since 1992, Ghana has chosen the path of law and order in the management of its affairs. It is therefore regrettable that Professor Dankwah and his Committee have chosen the path of taking actions that are contemptuous of the Supreme Court.

We plan to litigate this matter to its logical conclusion and call on the Chairman of the so-called Constitution Review Implementation Committee to terminate with immediate effect all activities related to altering and amending the Constitution.

S. Kwaku Asare July 16, 2014

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