Mr. Paul Afoko, the suspended New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman, on Monday gave his evidence in chief in the suit he filed challenging his suspension by the party, at an Accra Human Rights Court.
He told the court that he knew the defendants in the case, the NPP, as a registered political party in Ghana and Mr Freddy Blay as the first Vice Chairman of the party, adding that he had a relationship with the NPP as the elected National Chairman.
He said he filed a witness statement in the suit on March 22, and would wish to tender same as his evidence in chief, concluding his evidence.
During cross examination, Counsel for the Defendants, Mr Godwin Odame, asked whether Mr Afoko was at any of the disciplinary committee proceedings, and he answered that he was not at any of the proceedings because he had legal representation during all the proceedings.
He said he received full briefing from his lawyers who were always in attendance and received all correspondence as well, and relied on same.
Mr Afoko, when asked whether he received the first letter on October 2, 2015 to appear before the committee on October 6, 2015, said he received the letter but that was not the first invitation to the disciplinary committee, saying the first letter was in respect of one Alhaji Aminu and one Alhaji Yerimea.
When asked whether he was aware that on October 10, 2015, when his lawyers appeared before the committee, they indicated that he was ill and the case was adjourned at their instance, he answered in the affirmative saying he not being present before the committee did not prevent the proceedings from going on.
“My lawyers went specifically to raise objections to the sitting of the committee on the matter. The adjournment to the best of my understanding was not because of my absence but for the committee to pronounce on the preliminary legal objections raised”.
Mr Odame said there was no preliminary objection pending to be ruled on by the committee on October 12, 2015, because the said objection was filed on the afternoon of October 12, 2015. But Mr Afoko explained that there was an objection pending before the committee on the first hearing.
“The committee still had the initial objection pending which they did not pronounce on. And so the objection filed on October, 12, 2015 was the second preliminary objection filed. The petition was on the basis on which I was suspended and the same as the committee’s decision.” he said.
Mr Afoko however noted that he could not tell the court, when any of the said petitions were determined by the Council of Elders because he was waiting for the determination of the preliminary objections.
“I can only add that the only determination I received was when I received a letter from the Deputy General Secretary that I had been suspended with immediate effect.”
When asked why his lawyers told the committee that he wanted the proceedings to be held at a hotel because he was afraid of the entrance of the party headquarters, Mr Afoko said even though he had full legal representation, and the committee could sit without his presence he decided he would make himself available on the said day for the proceedings.
He said “ but information I gathered was that a group of thugs who described themselves as the invisible forces had been brought to come to the party’”s headquarters annex where the proceedings were taking place to physically attacked me. I therefore through my lawyers informed the committee that if they required my presence so badly then I would wish we meet at a location that I felt safe”.
The court later adjourned hearing to May 12, for continuation of cross examination.
Mr Afoko is challenging his indefinite suspension from the party, arguing it is illegal. The NPP’s National Executive Committee suspended him in October 2015 for “misconduct.”
According to him, the action and processes leading to his suspension by some elements of the party were unconstitutional and a breach of natural justice.
The decision was adopted by the party’s National Council, which is the second highest decision making body of the party after congress but he maintained the party erred in the decision.