So “certain” people have been arguing that the procedure used by the Petitioners in the NPP Chairman issue, is unknown to the NPP Constitution. So I went to look for my copy of the NPP Constitution and this is what I found on “Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures,” contained in Article 4:
Article 4(A)(3)(c) states:
“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.“
Note: The above stated provision clothes the National Disciplinary Committee with jurisdiction to hear all matters affecting discipline with respect to National Executive Officer. The Chairman of the Party is a National Executive Officer and therefore the National Disciplinary Committee has jurisdiction to hear all matters affecting discipline of the Chairman.
Having established the National Disciplinary Committee’s jurisdiction, let us examine how that jurisdiction may be properly invoked. Article 4(A)(5) spells out Proceedings at the National Disciplinary Committee. It states:
“(a) Disciplinary proceedings may be initiated by a complaint in writing delivered to the Disciplinary Committee, in so far as the complaint relates to the affairs of the Party.”
Note: There is no constitutional support/basis for the argument that the complaint should have been submitted to the National Secretariat or National Council for the Disciplinary Committee’s jurisdiction to be invoked. If a person has any complaint about a National Officer such as the National Chairman, that person must submit the complaint directly to the National Disciplinary Committee and not the National Council or General Secretary as is being argued by “certain” people.
“(b) Proceedings of a Disciplinary Committee shall be held in camera and shall be conducted in accordance with the Rules of Natural Justice.”
“(c) A Disciplinary Committee shall, within twenty-one (21) days of the receipt of a complaint, conclude its deliberations on the matter, and make its recommendation thereon to the Executive Committee, except that the period of twenty-one (21) days may, in appropriate circumstances, be extended by the Executive Committee.”
Note: The Disciplinary Committee is to make its recommendation to the Executive Committee, and not the National Council or any other body.
“(d) The determination of any question or matter before a Disciplinary Committee shall be in accordance with the opinion of the majority of the members of the Committee.”
“(e) A Disciplinary Committee shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person in performance of its function.”
Note: My understanding is that the National Chairman failed or refused to attend any of the sittings of the National Disciplinary Committee although the hearing had been adjourned three (3) times at his request. And on the last adjourned date, his lawyers requested that the venue of the hearing should be changed.
So far, it appears the jurisdiction of the National Disciplinary Committee was properly invoked and the proper procedure regarding proceedings of the National Disciplinary Committee was adhered to. Let us now turn to the functions of the National Disciplinary Committee. What were they charged/mandated to do after receiving a complaint? Article 4(A)(4)(a) is the relevant provision and it states:
“A Disciplinary Committee shall:
- Investigate complaints concerning the misconduct of a Member;
- Make a full, faithful and impartial inquiry into any complaint referred to it;
- Report in writing the results of the inquiry and the reasons leading to the conclusions reached; and
- Make recommendations to the Executive Committee based on the results of the inquiry.”
Note: These provisions cannot be any clearer than they are. Again, the recommendations of the National Disciplinary Committee must be made to the National Executive Committee and not the National Council, as is being argued, erroneously, by “certain” persons.
ROLE OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE IN THE DISCIPLINARY PROCESS
The National Executive Committee has 14 days within which to adopt, modify or reject the recommendations of the National Disciplinary Committee. Article 4(A)(4)(b) states:
“The Executive Committee shall, within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the recommendation of a Disciplinary Committee, adopt, modify or reject same and shall communicate its recommendation and the reasons leading thereto in writing to all affected parties.”
Note: I am not aware of the mode of communication of the National Executive Committee’s recommendation to the affected National Chairman, or whether or not he has received the National Executive Committee’s recommendation. However, I have seen a press release from the Party’s Communications Director announcing the indefinite suspension of the National Chairman, and also, news stories and press releases from the National Chairman’s office allegedly defying the recommendation.
“(c) The Executive Committee shall make any recommendation it deems fit to promote discipline with the Party, including the suspension and/or expulsion of the Member. The recommendation automatically comes into full force and effect where no appeal is lodged against it in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”
Note: (1) The National Executive Committee has the power to indefinitely suspend the National Chairman; (2) The indefinite suspension of the National Chairman is in full force and effect unless (3) an appeal is lodged against the recommendation according to the provisions of the Constitution. The National Chairman has a right of appeal. Let us now turn to that.
The National Chairman has a right of appeal under the NPP Constitution. Article 4(A)(6) deals with appeals against a decision of a Disciplinary Committee. Article 4(A)(6)(iii) specifically states:
“A Member aggrieved by or dissatisfied with a decision of the National Executive Committee may, within twenty-one (21) days of the receipt of the notice of the decision, appeal against it to the National Council by filing an appeal in writing with the General Secretary. The National Council shall conclude its deliberations on the appeal within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the appeal and its decision shall be final and binding on all affected parties.”
Note: I will strongly urge the suspended National Chairman to exercise this right of appeal if he feels aggrieved or dissatisfied. Filing an appeal will act as a stay on the indefinite suspension imposed on him. Slugging it out in the media does not amount to an appeal.
The National Disciplinary Committee followed due process in determining the complaints that were made against the National Chairman. The recommendation the National Disciplinary Committee made to the National Executive Committee was in accordance with law and due process. The National Executive Committee had the power to suspend the National Chairman on the recommendation of the National Disciplinary Committee. The National Chairman has a right of appeal, which right must be exercised within twenty-one (21) days of receipt of the notice of the decision. The appeal must be lodged with the General Secretary who will then forward it to the National Council for deliberation. The National Council must determine the appeal within fourteen (14) days of receipt. During the pendency of the appeal, the decision of the National Executive Committee is stayed.
Note: I have not commented on the substance of the complaints in the petitions and that is for a good reason. The debate has been about whether or not the Party followed the right procedure in suspending the National Chairman. The answer to that debate is an emphatic YES. I cannot comment on the substance of the complaints because I have not had the opportunity of listening to the petitioners testify or the opportunity of reviewing the evidence in support of the complaints in the petition, both of which were available to the National Disciplinary Committee. However, Article 4(A)(7) sets out what amounts to misconduct in respect of which a Member may be disciplined. You may read that for yourself.
By: KOW ESSUMAN, Esq., a lawyer qualified to practice law in England and Wales, New York State (U.S.A.) and Ghana.