Afoko Thrown Out

An Accra high court, presided over by Justice Arkaah-Boafo, yesterday dismissed

a case brought by Oppong Kyekyeku, a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), challenging the legality of the processes leading to the suspension of the party’s embattled National Chairman, Paul Afoko.

Oppong Kyekyeku had sued the NPP; Most Rev Dr Asante Antwi, Chairman of the NPP Disciplinary Committee and C.K. Tedam, Chairman of the party’s Council of Elders, arguing that the Disciplinary Committee lacked jurisdiction to hear a petition calling for the suspension of Mr Afoko.

The plaintiff sought a declaration that Rev Asante Antwi, by inviting the National Chairman to appear before the Disciplinary Committee based on the petition of C.K. Tedam, violates Article 4(3) (d) of the NPP Constitution.

Mr Kyekyeku stated that the National Chairman of the party was a member of the National Executive Committee to the extent that the invitation to appear before the Disciplinary Committee was not pursuant to any complaint lodged with the National Council.

The plaintiff further said the proceedings of the Disciplinary Committee were unlawful and that the National Council as an organ could not bring a petition against any member of the National Executive Committee in terms of Article 4(3) (d) of the NPP Constitution.

According to Mr Kyekyeku, four members of the Disciplinary Committee – Prof Mike Oquaye, Madam Ama Busia, Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor and Rev Dr Asante Antwi – are members of the National Council of Elders and therefore there was a real likelihood of bias against Afoko, adding that the Disciplinary Committee could not be properly constituted to hear the petition because ‘the defendants would be judges in a matter which they have undisputed interest’ in violation of the rules of natural justice.

Preliminary Objection
Godfred Yeboah Dame, lawyer for the NPP, in a preliminary objection to the action brought against the defendants, said the reliance on Article 4(3) of the NPP Constitution for the institution of the instant action was totally erroneous and shows that Mr Kyekyeku was ignorant of the operation of the NPP Constitution and that the suit was most frivolous and vexatious.

He argued that the relevant provision governing the institution of the disciplinary proceedings against a member of the NPP in Article 4(5)(a) stipulates that ‘Disciplinary proceedings may be initiated by a complaint in writing delivered to the Disciplinary Committee in so far as the complaint relates to the affairs of the party.’

Countering further, Mr Dame said the action was brought in utter bad faith and was frivolous and vexatious.

He further posited that the suit complained of violations or threatened violations of the rights of Afoko and not Mr Kyekyeku personally, insisting that ‘I respectfully submit that the plaintiff herein has no capacity to institute an action which alleges a breach of natural justice or potential breach thereof in relation to the disciplinary proceeding against a third party, that is Afoko.’

He said to the extent that Mr Kyekyeku had not complained about either a violation or threatened breach of rights as a member of the NPP or as a citizen of Ghana, the action was incurably bad.

Mr Dame averred that assuming without admitting that the plaintiff’s description of himself as a member of the NPP was correct, the institution of the instant action itself was in breach of the NPP’s constitution which enjoins a member of the party to exhaust the grievance procedure laid down by the NPP Constitution for the resolution of any grievance against the party or any organ of the party before invoking the jurisdiction of the court.

Clash Of Lawyers
Interestingly, drama unfolded in the court in the course of the hearing when the issue as to which lawyer actually represents the NPP popped up.

The Law Office of S.K. Boafo appointed lawyers for the NPP from Kumasi on the written authority of Afoko – a position Prof Mike Oquaye vehemently verbally opposed in open court and said he (Prof Oquaye) was the appropriate person to appoint lawyers together with the Constitutional and Legal Committee of the NPP, of which he is Chairman.

The court therefore, on October 27, 2015, struck out the appearance that came from Lawyer Boafo’s office, signed by Yaw Boafo.

The court had wondered why Afoko would force himself to appoint lawyers for the NPP when the Constitutional and Legal Committee had done so since 1992 when the party was formed.

The court, among other issues, questioned why Afoko appointed such lawyers when the suit had been filed by someone who stated plainly that he had filed the suit solely to protect the interest of Afoko.

Following this development, the National Executive Committee and the National Council of the NPP at a meeting on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015, unanimously re-affirmed the authority of the Constitutional and Legal Committee as the sole organ in the party to appoint lawyers for the party.

‘All suits must be referred to the Committee as has always been done since 1992,’ they said.

 No Capacity
At yesterday’s proceedings, Justice                  Arkaah-Boafo upheld the contention of the defendants that the plaintiff had no capacity to mount the action.

The court, after a comprehensive examination of the constitutional provisions bordering on human rights, noted that the plaintiff must be directly affected by the breach complained of.

In the view of Justice Arkaah-Boafo, a busy body was not clothed with the capacity to sue in respect of a violation or the threat of a violation of fundamental human rights.

The court observed that the plaintiff had not stated that he was an agent of Afoko, the suspended chairman of the NPP.

According to the trial judge, the proper party to have sued in the circumstance was Afoko, if he found it necessary.

Justice Boafo also upheld the arguments of the NPP about the failure of the plaintiff to resort to the constitutionally laid down procedures on the need to exhaust domestic remedies.

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By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson

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