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NPP Constitution Under Attack....   
 
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27-Oct-2015  
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A member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) from Mfantseman, Chief Obosu Mohammed has waded into the ongoing brouhaha over the indefinite suspension handed the party’s National Chairman, Mr. Paul Afoko, claiming the National Council has abused the constitution of the party.

His assertions are hinged on his interpretation of the party’s constitution, as captured in his full signed statement below;

The National Disciplinary Committee shall have jurisdiction in all matters affecting discipline at the National level with respect to National Executive Officers and key members of the Party including Members of Parliament, Patrons, Founding Members, Standing Committees and National Council members as well as other members who may be referred to the National Disciplinary Committee by the National Executive Committee. 

The National Disciplinary Committee shall have jurisdiction to hear appeals from the decisions of the Regional Executive Committee.

d) A Member aggrieved by or dissatisfied with the conduct of any member of the Constituency Executive Committee SHALL file a complaint in writing to the Regional Executive Committee.  A complaint against a member of the Regional Executive Committee SHALL be made to the National Executive Committee and in the case of the National Executive Committee to the National Council.

Note: Jurisdiction herein means ‘legal power’.  Article 4 (3) d has laid down explicit and unambiguous procedures that ought to be followed when a member of the party is aggrieved with the conduct of any member of the Constituency, Regional and National Executive Committee. The key word here is ‘SHALL’ which makes it mandatory for this process to be followed in respect of any member of the committees stated above to its fullest. It is worthy of note that, Mr. Paul Afoko is a member of the NEC and therefore a complaint should have being made to the National Council. As it stands, nothing of that sort was done. A constitutional mandatory requirement was abandoned and a complaint filed directly to the National Disciplinary Committee. The DC acted ultra vires by accepting and deliberating on the complaint at the expense of the party constitutions laid down procedures and the preliminary objections raised by lawyers of Mr. Paul Awentami Afoko.

5. Proceedings

a) Disciplinary proceeding may be initiated by a compliant in writing delivered to the Disciplinary Committee, in so far as the complaint relates to the affairs of the Party.

Note: The constitution cannot be read from down to up. The construction of Article 4(5) a has to do with ‘ordinary members’ and cannot override Article 4 (3) d which has laid done a mandatory procedure with emphasis on ‘SHALL’ in respect to certain officers of the party. The claim that proceedings may take place per a complaint in writing to the DC cannot suffice in respect of members of the Constituency, Regional and National Executive Committee – the gates are closed with regards to members of these committees. So far as   ‘Ordinary members’ have misconducted themselves in relation to affairs of the party, Article 4(5) a will suffice in this regard.

b) Proceeding of a Disciplinary Committee shall be held in camera and shall be conducted in accordance with the Rules of Natural Justice.

Note: Natural justice is used synonymously with or equated to procedural fairness. The nemo iudex sua causa – ‘no-one may be a judge in his own cause’ is to ensure that decision-makers do not have a personal interest in the decisions that they take

No one can be judge in his own cause and any person who sits in judgment over the rights of others should be free from any kind of bias and must be able to bear an impartial and objective mind to the question in controversy.

It must be noted that, the composition of the members of the DC sitting on the petition breaches the law of natural justice. The Chairperson of the Disciplinary committee, Rev. Asante- Antwi, Prof. Michael Ocquaye, Madam Ama Busia and Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor are also members of the National Council of Elders. The Spokesperson of the National Chairman, Lawyer Nana Yaw Osei who has been sighted in the claim by the Council of Elders is also a member of the National disciplinary committee. The Upper West Regional Chairman, Alhaji Abdul Rahman (Alhaji Short) who was part of the 10 regional chairmen who led the impeachment process of the National Chairman and General- Secretary is also part of the committee. Per Article 4 (1) c of the NPP constitution, at least five (5) members of the committee, including the Chairperson, shall be present to constitute a valid meeting of the Committee.

In Dimes v Grand Junction Canal (1852) Lord Campbell contended that “No one can suppose that Lord Cottenham could be, in the remotest degree, influenced by the interest he had in this concern; but, my Lords, it is of the last importance that the maxim that no man is to be a judge in his own cause should be held SACRED. And that is not to be confined to a cause in which he is a party, but applies to a cause in which he has an interest. … This will be a lesson to all inferior tribunals to take care not only that in their decrees they are not influenced by their personal interest, but to avoid the appearance of labouring under such an influence.”

Lord Hewart CJ in his erudite majority opinion stressed that it’s the appearance of bias that mattered. ‘A long line of cases shows that it is not merely of some importance but it is of FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE THAT JUSTICE SHOULD NOT ONLY BE DONE, BUT SHOULD MANIFESTLY AND UNDOUBTEDLY BE SEEN TO BE DONE … NOTHING IS TO BE DONE WHICH CREATES EVEN A SUSPICION THAT THERE HAS BEEN AN IMPROPER INTERFERENCE WITH THE COURSE OF JUSTICE”.

Again, the petition from the two northerners was not properly laid before the National Disciplinary Committee and same was not communicated to the National Chairman, Mr. Paul Awentami Afoko for hearing. At all material times that his lawyers appeared before the committee it was as respect of the petition by the National Council of Elders.

It is instructive to note that The National Council of Elders erred by arriving at a decision that will jeopardise the right and reputation of the National Chairman by calling for his suspension without giving him a fair hearing or an opportunity to be heard per the petition of the two northerners as they now claim. The principle of Audi alteram partem – (the other side must be heard) was clearly violated.

In the Baggs Case (1615) 77 ER 1271, Coke CJ in his majority opinion stated that

“… although they have lawful authority either by charter or prescription to remove any one from the freedom, and that they have just cause to remove him; yet it appears by the return, that they have proceeded against him without … hearing him answer to what was objected, or that he was not reasonably warned, such removal is void, and shall not bind the party … “

It is abundantly clear that Article 4 (3) d and 4(5) b of the NPP constitution was brazenly violated. A party such as ours, which prides itself with rule of law should not be under the ‘rule of men’. The fundamental human rights and the dignity of the individual has since being the bulwark for which our tradition was formed which has kept us till this day.

I will end this legal opinion by quoting an important provision in our 1992 National constitution

Article 23 of the 1992 constitution states that, Administrative bodies and administrative officials shall act fairly and reasonably and comply with the requirements imposed on them by law and persons aggrieved by the exercise of such acts and decisions shall have the right to seek redress before a court or their tribunal.

 I have every reason to believe that our party constitution is under attack. The purported suspension of the National Chairman is a sham and akin to the ‘kangaroo sittings’ during the era of military dictatorship. Having stated the facts and cited the relevant constitutional provisions and dictums by the learned Lord Justices, and believing same to be nothing but the truth, my conscience can now rest. 

Chief Obosu Mohammed

NPP Member, Mfantseman
 
 
Source: New Crusading Guide
 
 

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