An Accra Fast Track High Court on Tuesday upheld an application for an order of substituted service to be served on the Clerk of Parliament following the long absence of Eric Amoateng, Member of Parliament (MP) for Nkoranza North.
A professor of Accounting in the United States of America (USA), Prof. Stephen Kwaku "Azar" Asare had earlier expressed his dissatisfaction over Amoateng's continued absence following his arrest and detention by the US security personnel on narcotics charges, since November 2005. Professor Asare in an ex-parte motion for an order for substituted service contended that he had been able to serve three of the defendants, namely the Attorney -General, Speaker of Parliament, Electoral Commission but was unable to locate Amoateng.
"To date the first, second and third defendants have entered appearance but the fourth defendant (Amoateng) has not," an affidavit in support of the Ex-parte Motion for order for substituted service said. "A search report accompanying an exhibit confirms non-service," it said.
According to the Plaintiff, the "continued and indefinite absence" of Mr Amoateng from Parliament for a period of more than 15 parliamentary sittings, supported by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee was unconstitutional.
Plaintiff was of the view that the purported dispensation to be absent from Parliament granted the MP in late February or early March 2006 by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee after the expiry of the statutory 15 days stipulated under the law was incompetent, void and of no effect as Amoateng was constitutionally barred from holding himself as MP for the constituency as well as a Member of the House.
In a writ issued on March 14, 2006 against the Attorney - General, the Speaker of Parliament, the Electoral Commission and Mr Eric Amoateng through Ms. Comfort Asamoah, his lawful attorney, the US-based professor indicated that the Nkoranza North MP neither sought the permission of the Speaker of Parliament nor offered any reasonable explanation to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee for his absence from Parliament. Prof. Asare is, therefore, seeking an order of the court directing the Speaker of Parliament to direct the Clerk of Parliament to declare the Nkoranza North Seat vacant to the Electoral Commission for a bye-election to be conducted. He is also asking for cost, among other things.
Plaintiff in his statement of claim asserted that Mr Amoateng was apprehended in the US in or about November 2005 on narcotic charges and had since been in a US detention facility. By virtue of his absence beyond the 15 days stipulated under the law, no dispensation could be granted to the MP or any other person, who had absented himself or herself from Parliament as a member of the August House without reasonable explanation.
Prof. Asare noted that in late February 2006, he wrote a letter through his Counsel to the Speaker of Parliament expressing his grave concern of the violation of Article 97 (1) as a result of the continued absence of the MP and had not yet received any response.
Plaintiff said if the Court did not grant the relief set out in his writ, the defendants would consciously and unintentionally be acting in breach of the unambiguous dictates of the Constitution.