A leading member of the New Patriotic Party, Mr Paul Afoko, has commended the nine justices of the Supreme Court hearing the 2012 Election Petition trial, for the decision they took regarding the contempt charges against the General Secretary of the NPP, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, and one of the party’s communicators, Hopeson Adorye.
“It was actually a very humbling and sober moment for me as a party member to see our General Secretary and one of our youth leaders standing before the nine-member Supreme Court justices for their ‘unNPP-like’ comments,” he told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.
Mr Owusu Afriyie was spared a jail term for scandalising the court but was fined GH¢5000 and made to sign a bond to be of good behaviour for six months.
Last Wednesday, the embattled general secretary and a fellow party communication team member, Hopeson Adorye, were dragged before the Supreme Court for criminal contempt in connection with the election petition trial.
Owusu Afriyie, according to the summons, made unsavoury comments against the President of the nine-member panel of justices, Mr William Atuguba. Mr Adorye on the other, was summoned for threatening to behead supporters of the governing National Democratic Congress if the bench ruled in favour of the respondents. Owusu Afriyie confessed to the court that he felt “humbled” by the baptism of fire after the scolding.
Comments by two Justices
What really was sobering, Mr Afoko stated, was the fact that one of the justices – Justice Dotse – expressed worry and pointed out to the NPP that when the two leading members of the NPP made those comments, there was no sanction, no rebuttal or any action taken by the party against them.
In the view of Mr Afoko, what was disturbing is that similar utterances, not necessarily contempt issues, had been uttered by some party members in the past. This applies to the other major political parties.
Regrettably, he said it appears “our action and inaction have encouraged such utterances that have culminated in our General Secretary facing contempt charges before the Supreme Court and havingthe astute former Attorney General, Ayikoi Otoo, stepping into the breach to save the situation”.
On comments made by Justice Atuguba on the contempt charges, Mr Afoko described the Justice’s concern as an admonishment to the whole political class of Ghana, which he prayed all Ghanaians would take very seriously, if we intended to nurture and grow our democracy.
It would be recalled that the President of the panel of judges, Justice Atuguba, lamented that indiscipline had eaten into the country’s body politic.
“We must listen and adhere to the admonishments of Justice Atuguba,” he insisted.
I think the lesson to be drawn from this would be that all our public utterances as a mass political party (NPP) would have tobe cleared by legal minds within the party such as Ayikoi Otto.
According to Mr Afoko, the general secretaryshouldalso advise andpurge himself, take a critical look at what has happened to him not as Owusu Afriyie but as the General Secretary of the NPP.
“He should strive to make amends to limit the collateral damage,” he implored.
Proceedings at Supreme Court
According to Mr Afoko, “We need to recognise that this had become possible because our flag-bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, took the lofty position of a true statesman by resorting to the Supreme Court action rather than street action.”
He lauded the three petitioners and their legal team, led by Mr Phillip Addison, for their sense of perseverance, seeking justice at the law courts and by so doing deepening the country’s democratic dispensation.
The 2012 flag-bearer of the NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo, his running mate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the party’s Chairman, Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, petitioned the Supreme Court over irregularities andmal practices that took place in the December 7 and 8 2012 Presidential Election.
In the view of Mr Afoko, petitioners and their legal team had performed creditably and had done justice to “our case in court”.
He said the live coverage also gave Ghanaians the opportunity to follow the court proceedings and “I believe they will all do an informed independent evaluation of the court’s verdict.”
This, I believe, would further help the acceptance of the verdict by the Supreme Court judges”.
I, however, strongly hold the view that whatever the verdict, Dr Afari Gyan owes the nation an unqualified apology for the monumental waste of our resources for the manner in which he admittedly misconducted the elections, Mr Afoko demanded.
“That he admitted at the Supreme Court to administrative and transpositional errors during the 2012 elections was not good enough for Dr Afari Gyan to escape national blame.
He said that “even though we are all anxious for the country to heal and move forward, we will still miss the daily diet of proceedings”. It was almost like watching a World Cup, then missing it when it’s over,” he stated.