Home   >   Comment   >   Features   >   201511









Afoko’s Strange Biography And His Coming Legal Battle With The NPP
 
<< Prev  |  Next >>
 
26-Nov-2015  
Comments ( 0 )     Email    Print
       
 
 
 
Paul Afoko, suspended National Chairman of the NPP
 
Related Stories
 
I have known the suspended New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman Paul Afoko since he was a young adult. His elder brother, Martin Afoko {now deceased} was a fairly close friend of mine for many years. His father, Francis Afoko, was a key distributor of the Pioneer Tobacco Company in Bolgatanga. His depot and office were located downtown, right opposite Super Service Inn.

His political activism and career in politics have been one fiery baptism of fire after another.

It was probably as foolhardy as rushing bare-handed and headlong at a charging bull or jumping out of a plane without a parachute, but following the military coup of December 31, 1981, Paul Afoko did the unthinkable.

On a day when fear and high-voltage tension swept across the country from coast to  northern borders, the high and mighty in society were fleeing the country or going into hiding, and fiery-eyed soldiers in combat gear patrolled deserted streets, Paul Afoko and a few friends stood up against the coup with a frightening brazenness.

Minutes after the announcement of the coup, Afoko and some friends, including Hilda Nyaaba (Madam Bolico), Mr. Zira Issaka, a veteran journalist, Larry Bimi, who would later become Chairman of the National Commission for Civic Education, and others stormed and seized the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) URA-Radio station Bolgatanga.

They then proceeded to make a broadcast in which Afoko called on all citizens to pour out onto the streets to protest the overthrow of the constitutionally elected government of President Hilla Limann.

Afoko Flees

Troops were promptly dispatched from the 6th Battalion in Tamale to flush out Afoko and his band of dare-devil agitators. Some of the anti-coup crusaders, including Paul Afoko, fled across the border into Burkina Faso but others, including Larry Bimi, were arrested and detained.

For some strange reason, Afoko slipped back across the border a few weeks later and was arrested. He was initially detained in Bolgatanga, later transferred to the dreaded Gonder Baracks and final held at the Ussher Fort Prison in Accra.

Ussher Fort Jail break

Afoko made good his escape, when armed dissidents seeking to oust Rawlings, led by Lance-Corporal Alidu Giwa, broke into Ussher Fort and freed some prisoners. This time, Afoko fled to the UK where he lived in exile. He returned to Ghana in 2000 in anticipation of a political career in the NPP.

However, his string of baptisms of fire in politics was to continue: when the NPP held its National Delegates Congress in 2007, he lent his support to aspiring presidential candidate, Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, a move for which he nearly paid a dear price: He was nearly lynched by angry party supporters rooting for Kyerematen’s rival, Nana Akufo-Addo, when it was rumored that Afoko was sharing money in US dollars to delegates as inducements to vote for Kyerematen. It must have been scary for Afoko and one experience he is unlikely to forget in a hurry.

New plan For Power

Come 2014 and Afoko decided to put himself up for election as the NPP’s National Chairman, promising a “New Plan for Power” that would see the NPP back in power. No sooner had he began his campaign to lead the NPP as national chairman however, than internally party forces opposed to him moved to plant denigrating stories and rumors in the media to the effect that he had previously been imprisoned in the United Kingdom for a drug-related offence.

Unconfirmed reports had it that powerful forces in the NPP sought and obtained from the United Kingdom Department for Home Affairs, all the necessary information on Afoko’s alleged imprisonment in the UK for a narcotic drug offence and found the rumors to be false.

After Afoko’s election as national chairman of the party at the memorable Tamale Delegates Conference, the writer of an online article stated, “Now that the man (Afoko) has been duly and popularly elected to lead the party, all vilifications, insults, backbiting and the mud-slinging should immediately stop so that he will have the peace of mind to work.

That most unfortunately, was not to be for no sooner had he and party General Secretary, Kwabena Agyepong, taken theirs seats at party headquarters, than clash after clash began occurring at the party’s headquarters between feuding factions in the party. On several occasions, riot police had to be called to the NPP’s headquarters to stop violence and vandalism.

Matters came to a head when Paul Afoko was recently suspended form office as national chairman by the party’s national executive committee after some members of the party petitioned the committee over his conduct. The party’s national council, which is the second highest decision making body of the party, after congress subsequently upheld the NEC’s suspension of the national chairman.

Press Conference

At a press conference last week, Afoko explained to journalists at great length, the legal processes prescribed by the NPPs constitution for the removal of constituency, regional and national officers. He went on to show how the constitution had been breached with provisions.

In stating the reasons for his decision to go to court over his suspension, Afoko said he had duly exhausted all avenues available to him under the party’s constitution for seeking redress and was interpretation of the party’s constitution in a court of law.

Afoko explained that he swore an oath at the national delegate’s congress in Tamale to defend and uphold the constitution of the party to over 5,000 delegates, members and supporters of the NPP and could not break that oath.

The suspended party chairman said in seeking redress in court, he was not pursuing a personal interest but seeking to protect the interest of the party and the rights of all party members and elected officers, including the party’s presidential candidate.

Illegality?

Some prominent members of the NPP are of the view that the processes employed to suspend the party chairman are indeed illegal and contravene the party’s constitution. There are some who think it will be in the interest of the NPP to reach a mutually acceptable.

Political scientist, Dr. Ransford Gyampo, has advised the leadership [of the NPP to dialogue with and prevent Afoko from carrying out his threat to go to court. A court suit by Afoko, he has warned, can lead to a protracted legal battle that may hurt the party’s electoral fortunes in 2016.

Lawyer, politician and influential member of the NPP, Madam Hilda Addo, has described her party’s suspension of Afoko as “shameful” and like Dr. Gyampo, she thinks the NPP must bear in mind the party cannot win the 2016 general election in a divided front.

NPP front liner, Dr. Arthur Kobina Kennedy, says the suspension of the National Chairman of the NPP has set a precedent, and that in the not-too-distant future, "a cabal of friends, motivated by dark motives might remove a flag bearer [of the NPP from running on the party’s ticket, for any reasons they may deem fit.

Christian Council

Without making any direct reference to the case of Paul Afoko and the NPP, the Christian Council of Ghana, in response to the violence that has unfolded during the crisis in the NPP stated: “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. This [development] is gradually creating a culture of silence and fear in our body politic and it is dangerous for our democracy.

The overall advantages of settling the dispute out of court and negotiating with the suspended party chairman appear to far outweigh any advantages if any, of allowing him to proceed to court to seek redress, with the possibility of a long legal tussle that could leave the party divided given the level of support Afoko has in the party.

Closely tied to such a scenario is the likelihood that in the event of the NPP losing the 2016 election and disputing the Electoral Commissioner’s result, national opinion may attribute the party’s loss more to the effect of the party crisis over Afoko, than any flaws in the electoral process.
 
 
 
Source: George Sydney Abugri (culled from the Daily Graphic)
 
 

Comments ( 0 ): Post Your Comments >>

 
 
 
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.