Let us put an end to the politico-judicial persecution of dual citizens – Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare


Article 94(2)(a) provides that a person is not qualified to be a member of Parliament if he owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana. It is obvious but it needs stating that the article does not say a person is not qualified to be a member of Parliament if he is a citizen of a country other than Ghana. The easiest way to see that article 94(2)(a) is not aimed at Ghanaians who are citizens of other countries is to remember that at the time of promulgating the Constitution, it was not permissible for a citizen of Ghana to hold the citizenship of another country.

The politico-judicial misinterpretation that article 94(2)(a) is aimed at dual citizens has the grave effect of disqualifying a group of Ghanaians, numbering probably in the millions. Modern Constitutions are not drafted to create classes of citizenship and should not be interpreted to devalue citizenship or create fractional citizens. Considering that the values of equal citizenship, inclusiveness, and representativeness animated the Constitution, the article could certainly not have disqualified Ghanaians based on their status.

Rather, article 94(2) is targeted at a Ghanaian who has been adjudged to engage in certain prohibited acts that are inimical to the interests of the country. In the case of article 94(2)(a), the prohibited offence is to take a non-citizenship-related affirmative action that creates an obligation to a country other than Ghana.

One only has to look at the other prohibited acts in article 94(2) to get an appreciation of the character of the allegiance-related disqualification. For instance, the article disqualifies a Ghanaian who has been adjudged,

  • bankrupt and not discharged;
  • as being of unsound mind or detained as a criminal lunatic;
  • convicted for high crime, high treason, treason or for an offence involving the security of the State, fraud, dishonesty, or moral turpitude;
  • convicted for any other offence punishable by death or by a sentence of not less than ten years;
  • convicted for an offence relating to, or connected with elections;
  • found by the report of a commission of inquiry to be incompetent to hold public office or that, while being a public officer, acquired assets unlawfully or defrauded the State or misused or abused his office, or willfully acted in a manner prejudicial to the interest of the State, and the findings have not been set aside on appeal or judicial review;
  • is under sentence of death or other sentences of imprisonment imposed on by any court;
  • is not qualified to be registered as a voter under any law relating to public elections; or
  • is otherwise disqualified by a law in force, at the time of the promulgation of the Constitution, not being inconsistent with a provision of the Constitution.

It is instructive that in the case of conviction or of an adverse finding by a commission of inquiry, article 94(5) suggests that the disqualification lapses if ten years or more have passed since the end of the sentence or the date of the publication of the report of the commission; or has been pardoned. This reprieve and the provision for a discharge reprieve in the case of a bankrupt suggest that a disqualification under article 94(2)(a) may arguably be for a lifetime.