Afoko Wanted Petition Dropped – Witness

The Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Most Reverend Dr Samuel Asante Antwi, yesterday revealed that lawyers of the suspended chairman of the party, Paul Afoko, wanted the petitioners to drop the action that triggered the suspension.

He told the Human Rights Court, Accra, presided over by Justice Anthony Yeboah, that when the committee queried the petitioners if they wanted to discontinue pursing the suspension of Mr Afoko, they said they did not want to do so.

Mr Afoko is suing the NPP and its Acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay, who is also the First National Vice Chairman, after he was suspended indefinitely in October last year by the party.

The party’s Disciplinary Committee (DC) had recommended his suspension from the NPP after a petition by two members of the party but Mr Afoko wants the court to order his re-instatement as the National Chairman because he alleges that the party’s action was unconstitutional.

Mr Afoko, among other things, is contesting the issue of whether Gifty Eugenia Kusi, MP for Tarkwa Nsuaem, was validly appointed to the National Disciplinary Committee which recommended his suspension to the National Executive Council (NEC).

A similar case instituted by the suspended 2nd Vice Chairman was thrown out by another court recently for lacking merit.

Concluding his cross-examination yesterday, Most Reverend Asante Antwi said “when they were coming to the room, members of the committee heard lawyers of the chairman and the complainant discussing certain matters,” adding that “one of the complainants told us that the lawyer wants the complainant to withdraw the case from the Disciplinary Committee; and to be fair to everybody, we asked the complainant whether he would agree to that and he said no.”

According to the former Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana, who was cross-examined by Mr Afoko’s lawyer, Osafo Buaben, the committee proceeded to investigate the matter but the plaintiff never made an appearance before the committee in person.

He said when they proceeded with the case and asked about the whereabouts of Mr Afoko, his lawyers said the plaintiff was not making any appearance.

“Rather, he was asking us to adjourn the case to another date and at a place of their choice. Members did not agree to that,” he told the packed court.

He said Mr Afoko’s lawyers then asked for rulings on the objections he had earlier raised, among other things, against the committee’s sittings, adding that after an assessment, they overruled the objection and proceeded with the petition.

He said after inviting both Mr Afoko’s lawyers and the complainants and telling them that the objection had been overruled, “We asked the lawyer to sit in and listen to the complainants but he left,” adding, “they told us that he didn’t have the mandate of his client.”

Give and take

Counsel (Osafo Buaben): Where in Exhibit 10 do you find the plaintiff’s lawyers engage the complainants to withdraw the petition?

Witness (Most Rev Asante Antwi): It is not clearly stated but that is exactly what happened on that day. The complainants told us in the presence of the lawyers.

Counsel: The plaintiff’s lawyers never engaged the complainants to withdraw the petition.

Witness: That is not correct.

When he was asked whether Mr Afoko had been suspended as a member of the NPP or as an officer, the witness rather referred the court to Article 17 (b) of the NPP constitution.

The Reverend Minister told the court that meeting lawyers of Mr Afoko was the first time the Disciplinary Committee allowed lawyers of members being investigated to sit in their proceedings.

The NPP’s next witness, Peter Mac Manu, who is a former chairman of the party, is expected to take his turn on July 15.

By William Yaw Owusu