Afoko heads for court to uphold NPP's constitution

BY: Kobby Asmah
Mr Paul Awentami Afoko

The embattled National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Paul Awentami Afoko, has made known his intention to head for the law court by Friday to primarily defend and uphold the party’s constitution.

“I swore an oath at the Tamale National Delegates Congress to defend and uphold the constitution of the party to over 5,000 party delegates, members and supporters and this is exactly what I Intend to do,” he stated.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic on Sunday on why he was heading for the law court after the National Council (NC) of the party had affirmed the decision to suspend him last week, he declared:

“I am not doing this for Paul Afoko but to ensure that the constitutional principles of the party are upheld and the sanctity of the party maintained for its current and future growth.”

According to Mr Afoko, who lost his final attempt to exhaust internal party structures to resolve any grievances, the NC’s meeting last Thursday did not go through due process to consider his petition against constitutional breaches of the party.

“The illegally constituted NC failed to look at the merits and demerits of my petition and merely brushed them aside. There was disingenuity in the whole process. If you want to suspend an elected officer of the party, there is a way to do that, as prescribed by the constitution of the party,” he argued.

He also disclosed that he would provide further details of his action at a press conference to be organised  soon to state his case, first to the delegates of the NPP, its entire members, supporters, as well as the general Ghanaian public and the international community.

As to what he sought to gain from that exercise, Mr Afoko pointed out that notwithstanding the difficulties the NPP was going through, Ghanaians must still vote the party into power, saying by going to court,

“I simply want to leave behind a legacy as the national chairman of the NPP who worked first and foremost to uphold the constitution of the party, allowed party structures to work and maintained a sound financial profile for the party”.

Challenging outcome

Mr Afoko's lawyers have already completed a writ to challenge the outcome of the crucial meeting of the NC, during which it concluded that the decision of the National Executive Committee (NEC) to indefinitely suspend Mr Afoko should remain until further notice.

Article 10

Quoting Article 10 of the NPP’s constitution, the legal aides, who were present during the interview, indicated that “as the NC and the second highest decision-making body of the party, you do not do what is expedient but what is right at all times”.

Concerning the removal of an elected party officer, they pointed out that that would hold “whenever 40 per cent of the delegates that elect constituency, regional and national officers, as the case may be, give written notice to the constituency, regional or national executive, as the case may be, of the demand for the removal of any elected officer.

The Executive Committee which receives such notice shall, within one (1) week of receipt of the notice, circulate such notice to all delegates affected.”

They said the petition for the removal of an officer shall be on stated grounds, a copy of which shall be given to the affected officer, who shall be given the opportunity to be heard by a body constituted by the Executive Committee.

They further said within one month of the circulation of such notice referred to, the Executive Committee shall summon an extraordinary delegates conference to deliberate and decide on the matter.

“In case of a demand for the removal of any member of the constituency executive committee, the written notice shall be given to the regional executive committee. With respect to the removal of regional officers, the written notice shall be submitted to the National Executive Committee, while in the case of the removal of National Executive officers, the written notice shall be to the National Council,” the legal aides stressed.

They further pointed out that upon receipt of the written notice, the constituency, regional, National Executive committee or National Council, as the case may be, might suspend the officer from acting in his or her office pending the holding of the emergency delegates conference.

The notice summoning the conference shall specify the agenda and the approval for the removal of the officer shall be by two-thirds majority of the votes cast at the conference.

Refusal by the conference to approve the removal of the officer shall automatically terminate his or her suspension, if any, from office, they added.

Background

It would be recalled that a unanimous vote by the party's NEC on October 23, 2015 indefinitely suspended Mr Afoko and made his first Vice Chair, Mr Freddie Blay, the acting chairman.

Last week, Mr Afoko petitioned  the NC, stating constitutional breaches as the basis for his 14-page petition.

That prompted the highest decision-making body of the party after congress, the NC, to meet over the matter last  Thursday.

The issue on whether to suspend or not to suspend Mr Afoko has, in the last few weeks, generated heated controversies and threatened to deepen the cracks within the NPP.

Meanwhile, diverse legal opinions elicited by the Daily Graphic indicated that Mr Afoko had   a  water-tight case. It will be interesting to watch how matters unveil during the court  proceedings.