Why court threw out petition challenging nationality of Jomoro MP

A Sekondi High Court presided over by Justice Dr. Richmond Osei Hwere has dismissed an election petition seeking to challenge the eligibility of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Jomoro in the Western Region Dorcas Afo-Toffey.

Making copious reference from Article 48 of the Ivorian Nationality Code, the presiding judge Dr. Richmond Osei Hwere ruled that the first respondent Dorcas Afo Toffey was eligible to contest as she had amply satisfied requirements need for her to renounce and also lose her Ivorian citizenship.

A resident of Nuba-Mpataba in the Jomoro District of the Western region, Joshua Emuah Kofie filed a writ at the Sekondi High Court challenging National Democratic Congress NDC Member of Parliament MP Dorcas Afo Toffey’s eligibility to participate and contest in elections in Ghana.

According to the petitioner, the MP was not qualified to contest as the people’s representative in the country’s legislative assembly as she held dual citizenship.

He, therefore among other reliefs, prayed the court to declare the election of Dorcas Afo Toffey as the MP for the Jomoro Constituency as null and void and of no effect whatsoever as it violates the 1992 Constitution.

But in her defence, Dorcas Afo Toffey, admitted that she was an Ivorian citizen but took adequate steps to lose and renounce her Ivorian citizenship before she filed her nomination to contest the December 2020 parliamentary elections in the Jomoro Constituency.

She relied on the strength of a letter she wrote to the Ivorian Justice Minister on January 24, 2019 as evidence of her renunciation and loss of her Ivorian citizen.

An expert witness from Ivory Coast, Ivorian practicing lawyer, Dadje Ange Rodrigue in his witness statement, told the court that under Article 48 of the Ivorian Nationality Code an Ivorian shall automatically lose his or her citizenship immediately he or she takes on another nationality. In this instance, because Dorcas Afo Toffey had already taken on a Ghanaian identity, she automatically lost her Ivorian citizenship.

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The expert witness further averred that in another instance the Ivorian must write to the Minister of Justice declaring the renunciation intention. If the applicant does not hear from the Minister of Justice six months after, it is deemed that the applicant has lost his or her nationality. In this instance, Dorcas Afo Toffey had already written to the Minister of Justice declaring his intention to renounce her citizenship and the six months provision had elapsed several months before she filed to contest and participate in the 2020 general elections.

Giving his two and a half hours ruling the presiding judge Dr. Richmond Osei Hwere considered, among other things, Article 48 of the Ivorian Nationality Code and stated that Dorcas Afo Toffey was validly elected by her constituents.

The court indicated that the petitioner was not able to adduce enough evidence to support his claim that the NDC MP had dual citizenship at the time of filing to contest the seat.

According to the court Dorcas Afo Toffey, on the other hand, was able to prove that she lost her Ivorian citizenship at the very time, she acquired her Ghanaian citizenship as per Article 48 of the Ivorian Nationality Code.

This claim, the court explained was expressly corroborated by the expert witness an Ivorian practicing lawyer, Dadje Ange Rodrigue who was a witness in the case.

Supporters of Dorcas Afo Toffey were thrown into a state of wild jubilation after the ruling.

Dorcas Afo Toffey expressed her profound appreciation to the NDC for the unwavering support throughout the 23 months that the case travelled.



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