Angry Chairman NPP's Paul Afoko explains decision to go to court

"After exhausting all the internal processes I am left with no option than to head to the court to seek interpretation of my party’s constitution."

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Suspended National Chairman of the NPP, Paul Afoko play

Suspended National Chairman of the NPP, Paul Afoko

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Suspended chairman of the New Patriotic Party Paul Afoko has explained his decision to go to court after describing his  suspension as an illegality.

"After exhausting all the internal processes" He said,  "I am left with no option than to head to the court to seek interpretation of my party’s constitution."

This is the strongest statement yet, from Mr. Paul Afoko on his decision to go to court.

He says this s right thing to do and his action is to protect every member of the party.

READ MORE : Paul Afoko suspended indefinitely

Mr. Afoko was suspended in October after petitions of misconduct were filed against him. He has since petitioned the National Council of Elders for redress but that was unsuccessful after 70 out of 77 members of the council voted to affirm the suspension.

READ MORE: Nana Addo and others sued over Afoko's suspension

Addressing the media today in Accra Mr. Akoto indicated that his actions are to ensure no illegality is perpetrated against any other party member including flag bearers.

“This i seek to do in the interest of the party. this is seek to do for the protect of all party members and elected officers including the presidential candidate." He said.

Below is the full statement


Ladies and gentlemen of the media thank you for coming. 

I have invited you here today to share my concerns regarding some recent developments in our dear party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP). 
The destiny of our great party is threatened by the flagrant disregard for the party’s constitution. This emerging trend of blatant constitutional breaches and illegalities is alarming. 

On Sunday April 13th, 2014, I swore an oath at the National Delegates Congress in Tamale to defend and uphold the constitution of the party to over 5,000 delegates, members and supporters of this great party of ours and this is exactly what I intend to do. 

I have watched my party slide down the slippery slope towards destruction. Our party is in danger of shredding its democratic credentials. It started with intimidation, insults and abuse on air, physical attacks and now intolerance of Freedom of Speech and dissent, and of late, killings.
  
In the last few months, some members of our party have taken steps that are in clear breach of the constitution of our party. 

As you can all recall, on October 23, 2015, an illegal National Executive Committee issued a statement purporting to have suspended the National Chairman of the party. The processes adopted were illegal. Our party’s constitution clearly provides the legal processes for the removal of constituency, regional and national officers as follows: 

1. In the case of a complaint against a member of the National Executive Council (NEC) the complaint is sent to the National Council (NC). 

2. The NC then refers the complaint to the National Disciplinary Committee. 

3. The National Disciplinary Committee then investigates and sends its recommendations back to the National Council. 

4. If the matter relates to the removal of an elected national officer, then Article 10 clauses1 – 5 apply. The import of these clauses is as follows: 
If members wish to remove an elected officer, they must get at least 40% of the delegates that elected that officer, to petition to remove that officer. The affected officer will be given the opportunity to appear before a committee set up by the National Council. 

The National Council may suspend the officer, before subsequently an Extraordinary Delegates Conference is convened to deliberate and decide on the matter. This is the only time an officer of the party can be suspended. Even then, when suspension is invoked, it should not exceed one month.

Therefore, an indefinite suspension of an elected officer is tantamount to a removal of that officer. 
5. If the decision borders on removal and the person is an appointed NEC member, then Article 10 (6) applies. 

Contrary to the constitutional requirements, regrettably, a few of our members, bent on overturning the decision of the party in Tamale perpetrated the following: 

1. Baseless petitions were sent directly to the National Disciplinary Committee by the Council of Elders, and two separate others from individual members of the same Council of Elders. 

2. The Disciplinary Committee, without any referral from the National Council, illegally invoked its own jurisdiction. What makes this worse is that some members of the Council of Elders from which the complaint emanated against me, are also members of the Disciplinary Committee.  

Under the rules of natural justice, some of the members of the National Disciplinary Committee are precluded from determining the substantive complaint against the National Chairman as these members will be both petitioners and judges in their own case. 
3. The disciplinary committee, without ruling on my legal objections as stated earlier, proceeded to recommend my suspension. 

4. Further compounding the breaches of the constitution, the disciplinary committee sent their recommendations to NEC via the National 1st Vice Chairman and recommended that he convene and chair an emergency NEC meeting to consider their recommendations, even though I, the National Chairman, was in the jurisdiction, willing, able and ready to convene such a meeting. I wish to put it on record that I received no such document from the disciplinary committee. All these are contrary to article 9 (6) d(ii), which states: “the National Chairperson shall be the convener of all the meetings of the National Delegates Conference, the National Council, the National Executive Committee and the Steering Committee. 

5. The National 1st Vice Chairman then went ahead to further breach the constitution by hastily convening and chairing an illegal NEC meeting, despite my pointing out and cautioning them about the illegality. 

6. The illegal NEC meeting adopted the illegal recommendations of the Disciplinary Committee. 

7. Following the rules and procedures laid down by the constitution, I appealed against these illegalities to the National Council. 

8. The 1st Vice Chairman, in further breach, went ahead and convened another illegal National Council Meeting, when according to the constitution and convention, I should convene and recuse myself where the matter concerns me. 

9. Instead of the National Council deciding on the legal objections that I raised, they rather went ahead and affirmed the illegal decision of an illegal NEC meeting in an apparent coersive manner. 

Constitutional breaches 
The decision to suspend me is unconstitutional. 

The National Disciplinary Committee does not have jurisdiction to determine a matter with the effect of suspending indefinitely an elected Party officer from office contrary to Article 10 of our constitution which focuses on the removal of elected party officers. 

This is a clear breach of the rules of natural justice and of the provisions of Article 4(5)(b). 

Emboldened by these unconstitutional actions, Regional Executive Committees have subsequently suspended 21  constituency and regional officers who questioned the wisdom of a party, built on democratic principles and the rule of law, taking such contrary actions. 

The question for now though is “who will be next and when will this end?”. This is arbitrary and unlawful. 

All of these unconstitutional acts constitute a substantial threat to our vision of development in freedom. It is a threat to freedom of conscience, association and expression and constitutes a clear and present danger to our party’s values. 

It is illogical to suspend officers who are supposed to work to win elections. For instance, we have no Parliamentarians in the Volta & Upper West regions and we need all our executives to be on the ground working to ensure we win both the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Such actions constitute an attack on the party’s fortunes. 
Unless urgent action is taken to stop these gross illegalities, I am filled with foreboding for the future of our party. 

The outcome of the vote at the illegal National Council Meeting following my petition was not in the least surprising. All those who voted at that council meeting worked against my candidature. Their opposition and machinations notwithstanding, the National Delegates Conference, the highest decision making body of the party, bought into my message of “ New Plan for Power” and gave me their mandate to serve them as our party’s National Chairman. I am eternally grateful for this courageous decision by the party delegates.. 

Our party is known to believe in the Rule of Law. We used to be the  embodiment of a truly democratic party. As such, the unfortunate developments permeating our party today call for great concern.  All well -meaning NPP members and lovers of the party and indeed lovers of democracy must rise up and save our party’s democracy from these illegal acts that are alien to our tradition.  

At this point, I can’t help but  reflect on the recent statement from the Christian Council,  portions of which I quote as follows; 

1. “Our Politicians must demonstrate their strengths and influence by their ability to dialogue and engage others based on ideas, rather than mobilizing people to insult, attack and to some extent kill in their quest to exert their authority”. 

2. “ The use of coercion by some politicians to have their way on matters that are not in their favour is extremely frightening. It is now obvious that, people who challenge those who are perceived to be untouchable within the political circles are not safe” 

3. “ This is gradually creating a culture of silence and fear in our body politic and it is dangerous for our democracy”. 


Ladies and Gentlemen, these statements speak to what in my view, is happening in our party today. 

Because of the actions of some individuals within our party, the perception is being created that a culture of silence and fear is permeating our body politic. This is dangerous for our democracy. 

Conclusion 
In my moments of reflection during these difficult times, I can’t help but ponder over these thought provoking questions that I read years ago, and which I find appropriate at this time; 
Vanity will ask: ‘is it popular ?’ 
Cowardice will ask: ‘is it safe ?’ 
Expedience will ask: ‘is it politically correct ?’ 
Conscience will however ask: ‘is it RIGHT ?’ 
I shall follow my Conscience and do what is RIGHT. 

I shall uphold my oath and defend the constitution of the NPP at all times. In this quest, having exhausted all avenues available to me in the party, I am left with no option than to seek interpretation of our constitution in a court of law, before these series of illegalities affect our fortunes in the 2016 elections. 

This I seek to do not for Paul Awentami Afoko! This I seek to do in the interest of the party. This I seek to do for the protection of all party members and elected officers, including the Presidential Candidate. This I seek to do for the preservation of our party’s integrity and democratic credentials. If we allow the constitution of our party to be ridiculed and bastardised the way some people seek to do, then we will have a party without a soul. 
This is about winning the 2016 elections and sustaining it. 

I call upon all who love freedom to uphold the party’s constitution at all times. 

I would like to leave you with one of my favourite quotes from a renowned, successful and world acclaimed leader of our tradition; 
“The real test of a democracy is not just the right of a minority to disagree, but the right of an individual to disagree with the majority and still feel secure” – Dr. K.A. Busia 


Long Live NPP! 
Long Live Ghana! 
God bless you !

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