I Was Treated Like A Prisoner – Paul Afoko

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DG: Has the party since then communicated with you?

PA: Yes and no. I mean the communication was a verbal one.

DG: From the Vetting Committee?

PA: Yes, a member, Martin Adjei-Mensah Korsah. He called me to tell me that they were going to put my vetting on hold.

Petition
DG: Did he tell you the reason?

PA: Well, he told me that the reason was based on the questions they asked me relative to a certain petition – an anonymous petition.

DG: What is in that petition?

PA: I don’t know
DG: Were you not told about the content of that petition?

PA: They would not let me see the content of that petition. They refused to let me know who the petitioner was; all they did was to ask me questions.

DG: But they told you the content?

PA: Well, they alluded to it. They asked whether I had ever been to prison and I said yes; but I have never been convicted of any offence by any court or tribunal. Upon request, I told them about what happened in 1982 when Rawlings came in with his government  and I opposed it, for which reason I was detained as a political prisoner. After I had told them about the circumstance that led to my imprisonment, they proceeded to ask me whether I had never had any criminal conviction in any part of the world and I said no. They mentioned England specifically and I said I’d never been convicted of even a motor traffic offence in England. I was then asked whether I had not been convicted of any drug-related offence and the reply was in the negative.

Banter
They said ‘be clear of what you are telling us.’ and I said I was very clear about it. When I was asked to provide the Committee with my address in England, I challenged them with the word ‘why’? When they insisted, I addressed one of the members of the Committee, Mr Ayikoi Otoo, saying he had been Ghana’s topmost lawyer before, and challenged him on whether that is the way to seek information on criminal records from a person.

I referred them to the Crown Prosecution Service for the information they needed, because what the members of the Committee were doing was as though they were trying to set me up.

They persisted, ‘You have to give us your address in England; we must take your address.’ They then placed a pen a sheet of paper in front of me as if I was sitting in a prison cell or in an interrogation room. ‘Write your address there! If you don’t have anything to hide, why are you not writing the address?’ I was charged.

DG: Was that how it went?
PA: Yes, and then I was actually told I was going to write the address because the burden of proof was then on me. My reaction was quite harsh thereafter, pointing out to them that they wouldn’t tell me the content of the petition, neither were they prepared to give me a copy nor disclose the author to me; why they were insisting that I clear myself was unfathomable, and I would not do that.

DG: Have you since seen that petition whether through the Committee or your own means?

PA: No.
Compromise
DG: So how was that standoff resolved?

PA: I finally gave them the address because they were threatening to throw me out of the contest if I did not provide them with my address in England.

DG: How did you feel about all these?

PA: I felt I was being set up; I felt assaulted; I felt oppressed; I felt… I’m holding back a lot. But it was a process I was not expecting of a Vetting Committee.

DG: Do you think somebody somewhere is trying to manipulate the system against you or something?

PA: I don’t know what to say because I’ll be speculating until I’ve had concrete evidence; for now I don’t want to speculate. I always behave on the basis of what is, not what could be, what should be, what maybe. No.

DG: Uncle Paul, how do you feel about the fact that your case has virtually brought the entire balloting process to a halt and they are seeking to investigate it before they continue with the electoral process?

PA: What is there to investigate? That I have a criminal record?

Disappointment
DG: Have you been given a date to reappear?

PA: Nobody has communicated anything to me since then, that’s why I left for the North. I had to continue with my campaign and because word had gone out that I had been disqualified and my supporters were despondent, I had to do something. What do I do, except to go there and try to manage the situation so that the situation would not get out of hand.

DG: What is your expectation in all this?

PA: Very simple. The Committee has taken my address in the UK; they should go and check it. I don’t know whether they thought my home was a prison…

They say there is a petitioner but they won’t tell me because according to Ayikoi Otoo, that person could end up dead. I didn’t know of a petition before I walked into the place where the vetting was taking place so how could I be in a position to issue death threats?

DG: In spite of all these controversies, are you confident you’re going to come out clean?

PA: Hey, hang on; I’m confident because I told them what to do because the Crown Prosecution Service, the competent British authorities, are the only ones on the face of this earth who can tell anybody that ‘yes, we jailed that man Paul Afoko or we have never jailed him,’ even though I believe that this petition has no merit; its frivolous; that was the word I used.

Confidence
DG: Uncle Paul, do you harbour the fear that you will be disqualified?

PA: No, on what grounds? I will only harbour fear if I have a criminal conviction record – that’s when I’ll fear, that’s when I’ll have doubts. I don’t have any such doubts.

DG: What if you are disqualified, even though I don’t pray so?

PA: But why would you disqualify somebody when the person has not done anything wrong?

DG: Are you considering the option of seeking legal action in this matter?

PA: As I said earlier, anything I say will be speculation; the Vetting Committee has not contacted me so how can I talk about legal action when I know that disqualification is not an option -because that allegation is not true. If it were, then maybe I will start thinking…is not an option.

DG: How do you access your chances in this contest?

PA: My chances are bright because I’ve been in the country all this while. I know that with the strong support and prayer of all the numerous party supporters out there as well as those of the delegates, the good Lord is going to be behind me.

DG: You had an accident over the weekend, tell me about it.

PA: This is the hand of God guiding us; nobody got injured in that Land Cruiser. It’s totally in ruins. The picture that appeared in your paper was the back of the vehicle. If you see the front, it’s split open. It tell you that nothing that God has put together can be thrown assunder by human machinations.

DG:  So you are winning?
PA: Yes, I’m confident I’m winning else I won’t be in the race.

DG: Uncle Paul, I know you are campaigning and I know time is not on your side, I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.

PA: I thank you very much Charles, and I wish to conclude by saying to our party supporters and your numerous readers through you that I’m grateful for the outpouring of support I have received since this vetting issue came up.

By Charles Takyi-Boadu
 
 
 

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