Reacting to the ruling, Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, the National Treasurer of the NPP expressed surprise at the turn of events and said that it ran counter to an earlier agreement that the Party had reached with Concordia Ventures for an amicable settlement of the dispute. "WE HAD AGREED WITH THEM (CONCORDIA) IN PRINCIPLE TO PAY-OFF THE DEBT AND HAD EVEN AGREED UPON A SCHEDULE OF PAYMENT WE DREW UP TO THAT EFFECT," he explained.
Mr. Owusu-Agyeman said that, following this agreement, the lawyers of the NPP were to liaise with the counsel for Concordia Ventures to have the case formally withdrawn from court for the settlement to be effected. "IT IS SURPRISING THAT, AFTER ALL THESE, THE CASE WAS STILL IN COURT AND A RULING ON THE MATTER HAS BEEN GIVEN," he said.
The Press Secretary of NPP, Mr. Adu Kwabena- Essem, issued a statement in support of J.A. Kufuor. The statement described as "unscrupulous and outrage to journalistic ethics" the publication in the June 19 - 25 edition of the African Observer that the party's flag-bearer for the 1996 general elections, Mr. J.A. Kufuor, was involved in the purchase of vehicles for the last elections.
The statement said the Party was shocked to read the front page banner headline: "Political deceits" and its purported story on page two entitled "Doubts about Kufuor". The Press Secretary said that "ALTHOUGH THE NPP, AS A LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY IS COMMITTED TO FREEDOM FOR INDIVIDUALS AND, PARTICULARLY THE MEDIA, IT IS DISTRESSED BY DELIBERATE ATTEMPTS TO PORTRAY IT OR ITS LEADERSHIP FOR WHAT THEY WERE NOT.
He continued: "IT IS AN OUTRAGE TO JOURNALISTIC ETHICS AND AN AFFRONT TO ALL THAT IS FAIR AND DECENT" for the African Observer to label a political leader as "deceitful", and to "impute" other highly libelous intentions to him on the basis of fact the paper itself acknowledges are very sketchy.
In his statement the Press Officer of the NPP stated that, when a reporter of the African Observer called on him to comment on the issue, the reporter was asked to come back after the Efigya Sekyere East election to speak to the General Secretary, Mr. Agyenim Boateng; but the reporter failed to do so.
According to the Press Officer, the fact that the paper published its "very sketchy" fact without calling back to see the General Secretary suggested that the paper "was not really interested in getting the true facts of the matter".
He then stated that any fair-minded person would conclude from the approach of the African Observer that it was a deliberate attempt by the paper to tarnish the image of Mr. Kufuor for reasons best known to the paper. He then added that "the party has had no doubts about the integrity of Mr. Kufuor who, the party is convinced beyond all doubt, has always tried to serve it".
Rejecting the claim by the paper that Mr. Kufuor wanted to win more clout within the party, the statement said Mr. Kufuor was elected by the party's national delegate's conference and confirmed as the Great Alliance presidential candidate.
As stated earlier the Deku Committee appointed to investigate the charges by Mr. Essamuah against J.A. Kufuor decided to request Essamuah to substantiate the charges he had leveled against Kufuor but would not deal further with the issue of the transaction regarding the purchase of motor cycles from Concordia Ltd. Mr. Essamuah objected to this procedure and sent a letter of protest to the Chairman of the party.
In a statement, the NPP Executive described as unmeritorious the protest of Mr. Colin Essamuah against the procedure adopted by the Deku Committee. The statement, issued in Accra and signed by Mr. N. Adu Kwabena-Essem, was issued to clarify the Deku Committee report and to respond to the comments and observations by some members of the party against the report. The statement explained that, while the national executive committee of the party was deliberating on the Deku Committee Report, Mr. Essamuah protested against the procedure adopted by the committee to investigate the allegations contained in his letter. According to the statement, Mr. Essamuah had protested against the fact that no one else apart from himself was invited to testify at the Committee. He also protested at the fact that the report had been leaked to the media.
With regard to the leakage of the report, the statement of the National Executive Committee noted that the Deku Committee had suggested that, since it was itself suspected, an entirely new committee should be set up to investigate who leaked the report. The statement also said that, in accepting the Committee's report, the National Executive Committee decided not to accept the Committee's recommendation that Mr. Essamuah be referred to the Party's disciplinary committee to be sanctioned. The statement added that "IT WAS AFTER THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE HAD GIVEN CAREFUL CONSIDERATION TO THESE AND OTHER SALIENT MATTERS THAT IT DECIDED TO PUT THE WHOLE EPISODE BEHIND THE PARTY".
Although the NPP had agreed to settle the dispute concerning the transaction with Concordia Ventures without further recourse to the court, subsequent developments showed that the issue itself did not go away as quietly as had been hoped.
With a view to helping the NPP to defray the costs of the Concordia transaction and the court action relating to it, the National Executive Committee decided to request every presidential aspirant to contribute $2,000 to funds to be mobilized by the Party to settle the debt incurred in respect of the Concordia Ventures transaction.
However, Mr. Koi-Larbi, one of the Party's presidential aspirants, expressed opposition to the special levy on presidential aspirants to help settle the $90,000 debt to Concordia Ventures Ltd.
In a letter to the General Secretary of the Party which was later issued to the press, he said: "I SHALL BE READY TO PAY THE SAID AMOUNT IF WRITTEN ASSURANCES WOULD BE GIVEN TO THE EFFECT THAT THOSE RESPONSIBLE SHALL BE PUBLICLY REPRIMANDED AND CORRECTIVE MEASURES TAKEN TO PREVENT A RECURRENCE".
He added that, to avoid a repetition of such a serious matter, it was essential for the party to identify and deal with those who led it into incurring such a debt. He described the incident as unfortunate and lamented the fact that, instead of looking for money to revitalize constituency organizations, "WE ARE LOOKING FOR MONEY TO PAY DUBIOUS DEBTS FOR WHICH NOBODY HAS BEEN REPRIMANDED OR DISCIPLINED".
He also queried why the National Executive Committee of the party had decided to impose "the tax" to settle the debt only on the presidential aspirants for the year 2000 elections. He further demanded an assurance that the items were duly received by the accredited agents of the party in the constituencies.
Eventually, the Party considered it necessary to put the controversy behind it, and to concentrate its efforts rather on the preparations for the next electoral battle which was expected in 2000 when elections would be held for both President and members of Parliament.