Mr Afoko, however, insisted that the NPP National Council should have appointed Gifty Eugenia Kusi, MP for Tarkwa Nsuaem, whose membership is part of the issues he has brought to the Human Rights Court, Accra against the party, even though he conceded that there was no specific provision in the NPP constitution requiring such a step.
Mr Afoko has sued the NPP and its Acting National Chairman, Freddie Blay, following his indefinite suspension in October last year by the party.
The party’s Disciplinary Committee (DC) had recommended his suspension after a petition by two members of the NPP; and Mr Afoko wants the court to order his re-instatement as the National Chairman.
NPP Counsel, Godfred Yeboah Dame: Mr Afoko, you can’t point to any specific provision in Article 4 (in reference to NPP constitution) which requires prior approval by the National Council.
Witness: I cannot, but since we are talking about Gifty Kusi or for that matter one representative of the parliamentary group, the constitution does not also say that the person must necessarily be an MP.
Article 4 (1) (c)
Counsel then took Mr Afoko to Article 4 (1) (c) of the party’s constitution which deals with the persons that the National Chairman has the right to appoint onto the DC, which he admitted also does not warrant a prior approval by the National Council. The witness insisted, however, that in spite of this, his earlier answers to the question still stood that “The National Council has the authority to reject, accept and appoint all names put before it to serve on the standing committee.”
Mr Afoko’s answers prompted the trial judge, Justice Anthony K. Yeboah, to remind him that the court needed a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ answer before the witness could go ahead to offer an explanation.
Counsel: Do you see what you just stated in the provision?
Witness: No, it is not in the constitution.
Counsel: You see a requirement, in the provision that you just read, for at least two women to be on the Disciplinary Committee?
Counsel: Your alleged original list which you claimed satisfied the constitutional provision is actually contrary to this requirement for two women to be on the Disciplinary Committee. Is that not correct?
Witness: It is correct that the National Council did not actually adhere strictly to that provision. Therefore, if it was to be rectified then it was for the National Council to do so.
Counsel: Nonetheless, you consider your list as being the duly constituted Disciplinary Committee?
Witness: That list is not my list. It is the list that was approved by the National Council so I consider it as duly constituted National Disciplinary Committee, even though there is this flaw in the appointment.
Counsel: The replacement of W.O. Boafo with Gifty Kusi ensured that two women served on the Disciplinary Committee.
Witness: The nomination of W.O. Boafo came from the parliamentary group and so that had nothing to do with me but then the replacement of W.O. Boafo with Gifty Kusi was because the National Council was not quorate.
Mr Afoko told the packed court that some members of the committee, including Nana Yaw Osei (his spokesperson), and Alhaji Rahman had embarked on a pilgrimage to Mecca while W.O. Boafo had written to say he could be replaced; and insisted that the appointment of Gifty Kusi was not to rectify the gender provision.
Counsel: Quorum for the Disciplinary Committee is five.
Counsel: Take a look at the report of the Disciplinary Committee on your petition. How many persons signed as having taken part in the proceedings?
Witness: It is signed by six persons. What is revealing is the undated letter put in by W.O. Boafo where he states that he wished to be replaced so the committee could quorate. This goes to show that the introduction of Gifty Kusi was meant to have a quorum required.
Counsel: The number six which sat on your petition was in excess of the minimum quorum?
Witness: Yes, it is. But as we contended earlier, Alhaji Rahman was not available in the earlier sittings. The petition before the committee was the preliminary legal objection not what they signed off.
Counsel: I put it to you that the appointment of Gifty Kusi was thus not intended to satisfy a quorum of the Disciplinary Committee.
Witness: I disagree.
Mr Afoko admitted that the appointment procedure for all standing committees of the National Council was set out on pages 38 to 41 of the party’s constitution.
He, however, disagreed with counsel that in respect of all standing committees – with the exception of the DC – the appointment is directly by the National Council, saying, “The appointment of all members of the National Council standing committees is by the National Council.”
Counsel: You see at page 41, the appointment procedure to the DC is not specified there. You are referred to Article 4.
Witness: Yes, that is correct.
Counsel: Look at Article 4 page 11 and tell this court where it is stated that the National Council shall appoint members of the DC.
Witness: It is not stated explicitly but referring to my earlier answer, I state that uniquely, a DC is the one that has its membership coming from various bodies within the party.
Mr Afoko also admitted that the term of the DC had to do with how long they could serve but said, “It also states that they could be re-appointed.”
Counsel: The term has nothing to do with the procedure by which the members get to serve on the committee.
Witness: No, it has nothing to do with the procedure but it does say within the same Article 4 (2) that they may be re-appointed.
He admitted that there is no provision that contends that members shall be re-appointed to the DC but said his reliance on Article 4 (2) was meant to illustrate the point that just as it does not state explicitly so, it is that the absence of a term description did not make the membership forever.
Counsel pointed it out to Mr Afoko that at the time of Gifty Kusi’s appointment, he was not available to swear her into office; and the witness said it was correct.
Counsel: This was the same time that your lawyers appeared before the Disciplinary Committee and claimed that you were not well.
Witness: Only one occasion. I wasn’t incapacitated but not well enough to attend the hearing in the preliminary legal objections.
When counsel told him that the last time he (Afoko) held a meeting of either the National Executive Council or National Council was in March 2015, six months before the hearing of the disciplinary proceedings against him, he said: “In line with the constitutional provisions, I convened National Council and NEC meetings appropriately.”
Counsel: All the questions you raised about Gifty Kusi’s appointment were considered by the National Council.
Witness: The National Council did not consider any issues at all or questions relating to Gifty Kusi because the Council never had her name placed before them.
Counsel: There was an appeal filed by yourself against the decision of the NEC to suspend to the National Council.
Witness: Yes, there was an appeal filed but it was not contesting my suspension but rather the constitutionality of what had happened, especially the DC’s right to pronounce judgement without hearing the whole matter.
Counsel: Your lawyers indeed stated, as one of the grounds of appeal to the National Council, the allegation of the unconstitutionality of Gifty Kusi’s appointment.
Sitting continues on June 1, 2016.
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