Embattled National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Paul Awentami Afoko, on Monday petitioned the National Council of the party against constitutional breaches that led to what the described as the usurpation of his post.
The 14-page petition to the Council, the highest decision-making body after Congress, according to close sources, was received and filed by the party’s General Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyei Agyepong.
Mr Agyepong is expected to inform the council for further action. Mr Afoko who had 21 days to petition against his suspension, has all along pledged his determination to exhaust internal party structures in righting any wrong committed.
He has, however, not ruled out other options, including resorting to the law courts, if his petition is not given any fair hearing.
The petition, among other remedies, generally stated that due process was disregarded in the whole exercise to suspend him from office as national chairman.
Stating the grounds of the petition, the source said the National Disciplinary Committee receipt of the petition of grievances in writing from the National Council of Elders directly without giving the said petition of grievances first to the NC was in violation of Articles 4(3)(d) and 4(5)(a) of the NPP Constitution.
According to the source, the National Council of Elders, as a body, had no capacity to make a complaint in writing against any member of the NPP, while the petition by NEC against him “not being disciplinary infractions was submitted to the DC in violation of the NPP constitution”.
“That the DC’s refusal to give a ruling on the preliminary objections raised by the National Chairman’s lawyers to the petition of the National Council of Elders and the DC by never at any time during its proceedings informing Mr Paul Afoko lawyers that the said petition was withdrawn but used as part of its basis to recommend the National Chairman’s indefinite suspension violate his rights to a fair trial.”
Number of issues
Mr Afoko raised a number issues in the petition, which include Professor Mike Oquaye and Madam Ama Busia being members of the National Council of Elders of the NPP who sat and heard their own petition as a clear and egregious breach of the rules of natural justice and of the provisions of Article 4(5)(b) the source pointed out.
According to the source, the NEC meeting, which suspended Mr Afoko indefinitely as contained in the letter signed by Mr Obiri Boahene contravened Article 4(4)(c) of the NPP Constitution.
It mentioned one of the constitutional breaches as the party’s first vice chairman’s decision of convening a National Executive Committee meeting while the national chairman was within the jurisdiction, capable and able to discharge his functions.
The source also pointed out that the NEC meeting did not have a quorum as important personalities such as the party’s flag-bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; former President J A Kufuor, the National Chairman himself, the General Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyei Agyepong; Second Vice Chairman, Mr Sammy Crabbe, and the Women’s Organiser, Madam Otiko Djaba, were all not at the said meeting.
The petition argued that the purported NEC meeting failed to form a quorum as mandated and so prescribed by the NPP constitution. The petition stated that for such an important meeting to take place and more so to take a crucial decision on the national chairman, it required the input of the top echelons of the party who constituted the NEC.
According to the petition, any activity taken within the purported meeting was to no effect because it clearly breached the party’s constitution. On the Disciplinary Committee (DC), the petition stated that it was improperly constituted, according to the party’s constitution.
Citing Article 4 (3) (d) of the NPP constitution, it stated that the allegations against the national chairman should have been addressed to the National Council (NC) of the party and if found meritorious, the NC would refer it to the DC before the latter could commence investigations into the matter.
It further pointed out that after the DC had finished its investigations, it should have referred its findings to the NC.
Mr Afoko, who was elected the NPP National Chairman in April 2014, was suspended indefinitely at an emergency NEC meeting at the party’s headquarters at Asylum Down in Accra on Friday, October 23, 2015.
The NPP’s Disciplinary Committee had on October 21, 2015 submitted a report to the NEC of the party recommending the indefinite suspension of Mr Afoko as national chairman, citing his unilateral leadership style as a bane of the party’s progress.
At its meeting on Friday, October 23, 2015, the NEC endorsed the recommendation of the DC and asked the First Vice- Chair, Mr Freddie Blay, to act as national chairman in accordance with the party’s constitution.
Meanwhile, Mr Afoko has held that he is still at post and his suspension cannot hold. Some party activists across the country last week also demanded the immediate reinstatement of Mr Afoko, saying he had been elected and due process must be followed.