Professor Raymond Atuguba has described the removal of Professor Mawutor Avoke and Dr. Theopholus Senyo Ackorlie from office as Vice-Chancellor and Finance Officer, respectively of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), as smacking of tribalism.
Similarly, he said the removal of Dr Wilberforce Dzisah as Rector of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) – all upon the coming into office of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), only points to tribalism.
In a statement, Prof. Atuguba said: “When a change of government occurred in January 2017, a certain cabal (for lack of a better word) that is associated with Winneba, saw this as an opportunity to change principal officers of the University of Education, Winneba. After acting as Lawyer for the victims of this move, I can only conclude that the only real reason for their removal was ethnocentric. So Vice Chancellor Avoke, Finance Officer Akorlie, and bearers of similar such names had to go.
“Note that this is not an isolated incident. At the moment, I am also lawyer for VC Dzisah of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, who, like Avoke and Akorlie bear names that are not quite “right”. I must say that the whole enterprise was so revolting, distasteful and crude that I constantly had mental and tummy convulsions in conducting the cases, until I decided to withdraw my representation before I was tempted to say things in court that are unprofessional and jeopardise my clients’ cases”.
Read Professor Atuguba’s full statement:
When a change of government occurred in January 2017, a certain cabal (for lack of a better word) that is associated with Winneba, saw this as an opportunity to change principal officers of the University of Education, Winneba. After acting as Lawyer for the victims of this move, I can only conclude that the only real reason for their removal was ethnocentric. So Vice Chancellor Avoke, Finance Officer Akorlie, and bearers of similar such names had to go. Note that this is not an isolated incident. At the moment, I am also lawyer for VC Dzisah of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, who, like Avoke and Akorlie bear names that are not quite “right”. I must say that the whole enterprise was so revolting, distasteful and crude that I constantly had mental and tummy convulsions in conducting the cases, until I decided to withdraw my representation before I was tempted to say things in court that are unprofessional and jeopardise my clients’ cases.
To achieve the above dastardly ethnocentric objective, the cabal set out to use 6 strategies.
Strategy one: Try to misuse the courts to remove the UEW officials
The cabal went to the Winneba High Court for a declaration that the appointments of Prof. Avoke and others were unlawful and that they had committed breaches of the Procurement Act and should be removed from office. Without giving Prof. Avoke and co a hearing, the Winneba High Court, in breach of many laws in Ghana, granted the application and removed the officers from office.
I immediately filed a case to the Supreme Court on behalf of UTAG, which had taken up the case of the embattled lecturers, and in December 2017, the Supreme Court quashed, nullified, cancelled, the High Court judgment.
Strategy two: Victimise all the persons who tried to prevent the misuse of the courts to dismiss the innocent officials
Having failed to misuse the courts to remove the officials, the cabal decided to victimize anyone who had assisted in preventing them from doing so. As I write, the then President of UTAG, UEW branch, in whose name we mounted the failed application to join the Winneba suit and the successful first Supreme Court suit were brought, Dr. Bekoe, has been dismissed as a Lecturer by the UEW Council on trumped up charges. He has also been reported to the Winneba Police, again on trumped up charges, and is currently being prosecuted in the courts. He was rudely evicted from his residence late at night with this family soon after. The new President of UTAG, Winneba Branch, Dr. Duku, who replaced Bekoe, is currently facing disciplinary charges for bringing the case to court, and following the trend, will most likely be dismissed! What has Ghana descended to!
Every person who has sympathized with the embattled officers, has either been dismissed by the University or is currently facing disciplinary proceedings. The Disciplinary Committees, illegally set up, contrary to the 1992 Constitution and the University Statutes, act like typical kangaroo courts and have had a 100% success rate at dismissing from office anyone who has appeared before them so far in relation to this matter. One such person, Ms. Shine Lilian Agbevivi, was dismissed for forwarding a message that was supportive of the embattled officers to a UEW whatsApp platform! It looks like her name does not also sound “right”.
However, this strategy has also failed, as more and more persons are speaking up against the injustices, even as more and more of them are being sacked or hauled before disciplinary committees.
Strategy three: Try to misuse state investigative institutions to remove the UEW officials and the media to paint the embattled officers black
Having failed to quieten the harbingers of justice and human rights, the cabal moved to strategy number 3. Use state institutions to investigate and find something, anything, against the officials sought to be dismissed. Unfortunately, both the BNI and EOCO have been unable to find anything against them. When I acted as their lawyer, I wrote to both institutions to provide us the evidence of wrong doing that the University Council says the two institutions have found against my then clients. They were unable to produce anything.
In the meantime, the UEW Council has used public funds to sponsor full paged advertisements in the media, announcing that the embattled officers are guilty. Some of those who signed these announcements, turn around to sit on committees set up to investigate these officials. You declare them guilty today, and the next day you sit in judgment over them. Is this Ghana?
Strategy four: Go back to the courts and try to misuse them again
Having failed at the courts the first time, and having failed to cow everyone into submission, and having failed to find wrongdoing using the BNI, EOCO and the media, the cabal had nowhere else to go, but back to the courts. So back to the Winneba High Court they went, and secured a second judgment removing Prof. Avoke from Office as VC.
I again immediately filed a case in the Supreme Court for the second time, seeking to cancel out the second very wrongful judgment of the Winneba High Court. The Supreme Court has fixed 31st October 2018 (next month) as the date for judgment in this case. Do you now see why there is a rush to install a new VC before next month?
Indeed, I had also filed in the Supreme Court, applications for interim orders seeking to halt the victimizations, the dismissals, and the installation of new persons to offices that are contested in court. I also asked that these applications be heard in the vacation. These applications can, therefore, technically, be heard even tomorrow by the Supreme Court, now that most judges are back in town. Do you again see why there is a rush to install a new VC immediately?
Strategy five: Disrupt the attempts of the embattled officers to seek justice independently
In the meantime, I had instituted an action in the Cape Coast High Court, seeking to remove the usurpers from office and to declare that my clients were still the rightful office holders. I also brought actions to reinstate the Lecturers who were unlawfully dismissed. The cabal did everything to prevent the cases from being heard. On one occasion, in desperation, they sought an adjournment on the grounds that their lawyer was suddenly taken ill. It is not easy to lie, you know. The documentation they provided from the doctor showed that the letter to be excused from court was written two full days before the lawyer purportedly suddenly fell ill and was seen by the doctor! I pointed this out in open court. Because our rules of court are pro-defendant and not pro-plaintiff, it is easy for these disruptions to occur.
When we were making headway in the matter by June of this year, and the court had fixed judgment for August, “things” started to happen. As we speak, the judge sitting on the case has been transferred.
Strategy six: Use the president to provide political legitimacy to an illegality
In desperation, the cabal is now moving to their final strategy. Pull in the Father of the Nation, the First Gentleman, the Head of Government and of the Executive, and surreptitiously use him to give a cover of legitimacy over something that is clearly illegal, by fixing an induction of a new VC for UEW at the time the President is conducting a Central Regional tour, so that the President will, perhaps unwittingly, making a number of statements to the public:
1. That the illegal removal of Prof. Avoke and other officials in Winneba, and indeed in other Universities, is alright and has the support of the President;
2. The illegal installation of a new VC in Winneba, at a time that the Supreme Court is about to decide his fate next month, and the High Court is also set to decide the fate of the purported successor to Prof. Avoke next month, has the support of the President.