Tony Aidoo slams NDC party leadership
THE FORMER Deputy Minister of Defence under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, Dr. J. Tony Aidoo, has slammed his party for suspending Dr. Josiah Nii Armah Aryeh, the former general secretary of the NDC. The former General Secretary was suspended for misconduct and alleged flirting with the New Patriotic Party (NPP). According to him, the Functional Executive Committee (FEC) that suspended the ex-chief scribe was illegal.
“Dr. Aryeh's suspension was illegal and above all, the suspension has gone beyond the stipulated time. This was purely a breach of the party's constitution. The issue of whether he took the bribe which has created the need for the committee to suspend him was irrelevant,” he contended.
Speaking with The Chronicle in an interview over the weekend, as regards the undue delay of the committee's report on the suspended ex-embattled general secretary, and what others perceived as unfair comments from the members of Hon. Bagbin's committee, Dr. Aidoo said those comments were immaterial.
“How do you expect him to keep quiet after you have illegally suspended him? Those comments, for me, are irrelevant. I am only concerned about the illegality of the suspension,” he told The Chronicle
The former deputy minister, who refused to go any further in the discussion, then presented a statement, which condemned the position taken by the NDC leadership and delved into the constitutional crisis within the party.
“The FEC obviously construed its jurisdiction from Article 24(3), which vests it with overall administration of party affairs, when the NEC is not meeting. The FEC also appears to have relied on Article 39 (1), which directs that disciplinary action can be taken against a miscreant member by the executive committee where the latter deems the action to be in the interest of the party, pending the institutionalization of a disciplinary committee, as required by both the party's constitution and rules of natural justice.”
Dr. Aidoo, who rubbished the actions of the FEC of the party, bemoaned the inability of the members to present copies to the National Executives Committee (NEC) before embarking on their intended mission, adding, “Even though the FEC's letter of suspension was released to the press, there was no similar communication to the members of the NEC, either as a matter of courtesy or as an organizational requirement. Neither did the FEC inform the NEC regarding the setting up of the Bagbin Investigation Committee.”
According to him, it was unfortunate that the party turned deaf ears to the objections raised by Dr. Aryeh against the decision taken by FEC and pointed out that the FEC and obviously the Bagbin committee had misconstrued the facts relating to his alleged misconduct, upon which the decision to suspend him was based.
Dr. Aidoo insisted that the FEC had no constitutional authority to suspend Dr. Aryeh, therefore had acted ultra vires.
He supported the defence put up by Dr. Aryeh that the FEC could not by itself institute disciplinary measures against its own members, pointing out that at best, the FEC could only recommend to the NEC for such action to be taken.
Explaining the legal issues involved in the matter, the former minister and leading member of the NDC averred that Article 39 (8) of his party's constitution provided the list of offences by which a member of the party became liable to disciplinary action.
He added that, whether the allegations against the former NDC chief scribe and its subsequent findings of the Bagbin Committee established a prima facie case against him, was a matter that should be decided later.
“In other words, the substance of alleged wrongdoings of Dr. Josiah Aryeh stands independent of the legal issues he has raised against the FEC in his letter of protest against the FEC's decision to suspend him,” he argued.
He said the ex-general secretary's protest raises two pertinent legal issues: “Does the FEC have the constitutional jurisdiction to institute disciplinary action against any member of the NDC? If the FEC has this jurisdiction, does it extend to the alleged misconduct of its own members?”
Touching on one of the fundamental principles of administrative law, Dr. Aidoo contended that, an authority must not exceed its jurisdiction by purporting to exercise power which it does not possess, as was held in Anisminic V Foreign Compensation Commission of (1969) 2 AC 147, House of Lords.
“On this principle, the FEC's decision against Dr. Aryeh would be clearly ultra-vires if it can be proven that the party's constitution does not give the FEC such a disciplinary jurisdiction.”
He continued that, “this question of the FEC's disciplinary jurisdiction turns on the interpretation of two articles of the party's constitution, namely 24 (3) that defines the FEC's functions and powers and Article 39 (1), which defines the authority that has disciplinary jurisdiction.”