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Afoko's 'Counsel' Turns Witness...Grilled During Cross-Examination   
 
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14-Jun-2016  
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Mr Martin Kpebu, a Legal Practitioner, has appeared before the Accra Human Rights Court hearing the suit filed by Mr Paul Afoko, challenging his suspension by the party, as the first prosecution witness.

The counsel for Mr Afoko presented Mr Kpebu as his first prosecution witness to give his evidence.

Mr Kpebu told the court that he knew both the plaintiff Mr Paul Afoko and the defendants in the case, the NPP and Mr Freddy Blay.

He said he filed a witness statement in the suit on March 21, and would wish to tender same as his evidence in chief, subject to the parts that have been expunged earlier by the court on April 13, concluding his evidence.

During cross examination, Counsel for the Defendants, Mr Godfred Dame, asked whether Mr Kpebu was still the Counsel for the plaintiff in the matter but he said no, indicating that he ceased to be his counsel when it became clear to him that he would be giving evidence in the case.

The lawyer testifying as witness on behalf of suspended New Patriotic Party (NPP) chairman, Paul Afoko, yesterday admitted that Mr Afoko’s suit was not based on express provisions of the party’s constitution.

Martin Kpebu said Mr Afoko was rather basing his suit on certain practices and conventions that had been adopted by the party with time.

Mr Afoko sued the NPP and its acting national chairman, Freddie Blay, following his indefinite suspension in October last year by the party.

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

Afoko, among other things, is contesting the issue of whether Gifty Eugenia Kusi, Member of Parliament (MP) for Tarkwa Nsuaem, was legitimately appointed to the National Disciplinary Committee.

A similar case also instituted by the suspended 2nd vice chairman, Sammy Crabbe, was thrown out for lacking merit.

Mr Kpebu told the court presided over by Justice Anthony Yeboah that he ceased to be Mr Afoko’s lawyer when he gave a statement at the instance of the beleaguered chairman which was filed on March 21, 2016. He added that he is not a member of the NPP.


Lawyer vrs Lawyer

NPP Counsel (Godfred Yeboah Dame): In testifying about the alleged incompetence of Hon Gifty Kusi to sit on the Disciplinary Committee, are you a member of the NEC in the first place?

Witness (Lawyer Kpebu): No.

Counsel: You are also not a member of the National Council?

Witness: Yes.

Counsel: Indeed, you are not even a member of the NPP?

Witness: Yes. My position on Gifty Kusi is informed by the records that the plaintiff (Mr Afoko) showed me and the constitution of the first defendant (NPP).

Lawyer Kpebu insisted that his claims about Madam Gifty Kusi were not speculative, even though he said he did not find out how the members were appointed to the Disciplinary Committee.

He also did not attach any importance to the NPP’s letter of October 1, 2015 that purportedly appointed Madam Gifty Kusi as a member of the DC.


Disciplinary Committee Appointments

When the NPP counsel asked the witness to show the court which part of the party’s constitution said that members of the Disciplinary Committee shall be appointed by the National Council, Lawyer Kpebu said, “There are two levels to the answer,” and went ahead to explain the instances but could not give the court the specific provision.

Counsel: In saying all these, which portion of the NPP constitution are you relying on?

Witness: That is the practice of the 1st defendant and once it is accepted by them, it is also constitutional.

Counsel: Do I understand you to mean that it is not based on express provision of the NPP constitution?

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Witness: Yes, it is not in the physical (letter) constitution but it is part of their practices.

Counsel: You speak to alleged practices of the NPP even though you are not a member.

Witness: Yes, because the plaintiff showed me minutes of the National Council meetings which approved the correct members of the committee.

Counsel: So you agree with me that there has not been the violation of any specific provision of the NPP constitution?

Witness: No, indeed, the practice constitutes the understanding of the NPP in respect of Article 4 (1) (C).

 
Mode of Appointment

Lawyer Kpebu told the court that he did not ascertain from each member of the DC how they had been appointed onto the committee when he appeared before them on behalf of Mr Afoko, but said he was briefed by the plaintiff.

He admitted that he did not raise any objection to Madam Gifty Kusi’s appointment during the DC’s sittings and added that the first time he raised the objection was in the appeal to the National Council against the NEC’s decision to suspend Mr Afoko.

Mr Kpebu said that he did not raise any objection because Mr Afoko had earlier raised preliminary objections to the Disciplinary Committee sittings and was waiting for a ruling from the party.

Counsel: The essence of your objection to Madam Gifty Kusi’s membership at the Disciplinary Committee is that she has not been appointed by the National Council?

Witness: That is correct.

Counsel: This same National Council considered the appointment of Madam Gifty Kusi as proper.

Witness: I don’t know because we have not been given the reasons for the decision of the National Council.

Counsel: But you are aware that the entire appeal which included the objections to Madam Gifty Kusi was dismissed by the National Council?

Witness: Yes, I heard it on radio.

Counsel: Did you file this case based on radio report?

Witness: Partly, yes; partly, no.

Counsel: Are you aware that the decision of the National Council was communicated to your client?

Witness: I don’t remember.

The case was adjourned to June 15, for further cross examination.

At the last sitting, the defence counsel ended cross examination, and the Counsel for Mr Afoko told the court that he had two more witnesses to present.

The presiding Judge Justice Anthony Yeboah gave both parties one week to file their legal submissions, while the two witnesses would be brought to be cross- examined on their evidence.

Mr Afoko is challenging his indefinite suspension from the party, arguing it was 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 members 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
 
 
Source: GNA
 
 

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