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Professor Raymond Atuguba of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana (Legon), has raised concerns about attempts made by the Governing Council of the University of Education, Winneba, to circumvent legal processes to induct a new Vice-Chancellor on Monday.
Prof. Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni who was appointed the substantive Vice Chancellor of the University by the Governing Council early September would be inducted later Monday, September 17, despite some pending legal actions challenging his legitimacy.
His appointment followed the investigations and subsequent dismissal of the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Mawutor Avoke, who was hauled before the University Council Disciplinary Board for allegations of indiscipline.
Prof. Avoke and four others, who were also dismissed, have since gone to court to challenge their dismissal.
Meanwhile, the president, Nana Addo Dankwa- Akufo Addo is expected to grace the occasion of the induction of Prof. Afful-Broni at Winneba as part of his Central regional tour on Monday.
But Prof. Atuguba thinks the event will be a test of whether the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is truly a man who respects rule of law, since he will be the man to swear in the new VC whose legitimacy is being challenged at the Supreme Court.
According to Prof. Atuguba, he has had to withdraw his legal representation for the former Vice Chancellor (VC) of UEW and his other embattled colleagues, in open court in the Cape Coast High Court, because he “sensed unseen hands operating to prevent one of the fairest judges I have ever appeared before, from dispensing justice speedily and justly, or at all”.
He added that “the presence or absence of the President at the illegal induction of a new VC will confirm for me, at a personal level, whether or not the President was and/or is a part of those unseen hands, or at least did nothing, or intends to do nothing, to stop them”.
In what he called the facts of the matter, Prof. Atuguba alleged a cabal was set up when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power to pursue an ethnocentric agenda, which among others desperately sought the removal of the former VC of UEW, Professor Mawutor Avoke, and the former rector of GIJ, Dr. Wilberforce Dzisah.
He explained the “cabal” used strategies which included the misuse of courts, misuse of state investigative institutions, and victimization of people who stood for justice and the abuse of the presidency.
Professor Atuguba further questioned why the Governing Council cannot wait for the Supreme Court and the Cape Coast High Court to deliver their judgments before the induction ceremony since the judgements have the potential of making Professor Mawutor Avoke the Vice Chancellor?
He, however, noted that a new application for an injunction has been filed and is due to be heard Monday morning and had the potential of stopping the ceremony.
Below is the full statement of Prof. Atuguba:
I am currently abroad, and just received alarming news that the President of the Republic is scheduled to grace the occasion of the induction of a new Vice Chancellor for the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) tomorrow at noon. I do hope that the news, which is also on the University’s website, is false.
I am writing this quick piece to achieve two purposes. First, to underline the fact that the UEW series of cases has put the President of the Republic in a Rule of Law and Judicial Independence spotlight, and his actions and inaction in the next few hours and few days would signal to the Ghanaian public whether the admirable Rule of Law credentials he has always had as a person and as a professional are still intact, or whether he has abandoned them on the altar of politics.
Flowing from this, the signal from the first citizen of the Republic will undoubtedly inform whether and how the rest of us, citizens and subjects alike, obey the Rule of Law and uphold Judicial Independence. The second and last reason why I am writing this quick piece is that I am stunned at the amount of deliberate misinformation around the UEW cases, and I hope that this piece will signal to the handlers of the President that another version of the facts, other than that with which they have obviously been fed, exists.
The good thing about this version of the facts I am about to narrate is that they are easily verifiable; indeed, most of them are court records that can easily be checked tomorrow morning at the Supreme Court and the High Courts (Winneba, Cape Coast, and Accra), well before the 12-noon purported induction of a new VC.
I must be forthright and say at this point that when I withdrew my legal representation for the Vice Chancellor (VC) of UEW and his other embattled colleagues, in open court in the Cape Coast High Court, it was because I sensed unseen hands operating to prevent one of the fairest judges I have ever appeared before, from dispensing justice speedily and justly, or at all.
The presence or absence of the President at the illegal induction of a new VC will confirm for me, at a personal level, whether or not the President was and/or is a part of those unseen hands, or at least did nothing, or intends to do nothing, to stop them. Those who know me know that God has given me the immense Grace to be able to say publicly, what most Ghanaians know, see, are aware of, but mutter to themselves in hushed tones. I do not intend not to use that Grace.
Now the facts.
FACT ONE: 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 2 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. After 25 years of Constitutional Democracy, it is a shameful disgrace that Vice Chancellors of public universities will be installed and removed based on ethnocentrism.
The three foremost institutions that the 1992 Constitution seeks to protect from such are:
The judiciary; Independent Constitutional Bodies; and Institutions of Higher Learning and Research (such as Universities); and for very obvious reasons. Interfering with item 3 above means that we could easily slip into interfering with the others, and there goes our constitutionalism and our democracy.
FACT TWO: 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! 3 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 wrongdoing 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 4 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:
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;
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.
What we need to remember is that the Supreme Court will deliver a judgment on UEW just next month, and that judgment could hold that Prof. Avoke remains the Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, and that his purported removal by the Winneba High Court is improper.
We need to also remember that the High Court, Cape Coast, is set to deliver rulings and judgments in October, and these could hold that the removal of Prof. Avoke is illegal and the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor is also illegal, and that various officials, including the purported new Vice Chancellor are in contempt of court and should be locked up in jail for hundreds of actions they have taken since the start of these matters.
We have an application for contempt against them pending in the Cape Coast High Court. Why can’t the University Council (and the President) allow the courts to decide, JUST NEXT MONTH, so that if their candidate wins the case, they can do 1000 installations for him next month? Why can’t they wait? Do they know something that the rest of us do not know?
By the way, the new lawyer for Prof. Avoke and co tells me that she has filed a new suit against the President, the Ministers of Education, the University Council (UEW) and others, and an accompanying Motion for Injunction to prevent the swearing-in ceremony. Filed in the courts last week, the case is yet to be assigned to a judge, and could be heard on Monday morning. This means that even as the President is heading to Winneba tomorrow, a Court could at the same time be giving a ruling that injuncts the induction ceremony.
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