For those who have followed the events at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) over the past two years, the happenings of March 14 would come as no surprise.
The saying ‘Coming events cast their shadows’ was everything true in the case of the University. Inasmuch as one couldn’t have planned and executed step by step all the incidents and the eventual breakdown of peace as was witnessed on Thursday, March 14, one cannot help but on careful interrogation say there have been powerful hands at play and still at play in what was and will be the state of affairs at the UEW.
How it all began
May 23, 2017: One Supi Kofi Kwayera commenced an action in the High Court, Winneba against the University of Education, Winneba and the Minister for Education, alleging a breach of the University’s Act, 2004 (Act 672) and the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663). He sought among other reliefs the declaration that the continuous existence of the Avoke-led Governing Council was “illegal” and a declaration that all appointments by the Council were void.
- Between that day and July 18, the lawyers of the University challenged the capacity of the applicant (Supi Kofi Kwayera), a fight which was dismissed by the High Court.
- The applicant secured an injunction restraining the Vice-Chancellor, the Finance Officer from exercising their duties until final determination.
- Note, however, that the Vice-Chancellor and Finance Officer were not parties to the said action. The only reason being that the ‘defunct’ Governing Council appointed both to their positions.
- The court asked then Pro-Vice Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Prof Afful-Bron,i an appointee of the “defunct” Governing Council had appointed him to that position.
What happened next?
- July 10, 2017: High Court, Winneba throws out a motion by the University challenging the applicant’s capacity to challenge the Governing Council.The Court also dismissed a motion challenging its jurisdiction in hearing the case brought against the University.
- July 18, 2017: Prof. Kwesi Yankah, Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, inaugurated a 16-member Governing Council.
- July 19, 2017: The Chairman of the newly inaugurated Council wrote to the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Rev. Prof. Aful-Broni to act in the stead of the Vice-Chancellor until a determination of the suit in Court against the Prof Avoke-led University, an order which affected the tenure of Avoke and some other principal staff.
- July 21, 2017: The Council asked the lawyers of the school to withdraw the appeal process filed at the Appeals Court and a Stay of Execution filed at the High Court.
- August 1, 2017: New Governing Council asks Prof Avoke to prepare handing over notes to Ag. Vice-Chancellor, who has been barely a month in office.
- August 17, 2017: Governing Council constitutes a Fact-finding Committee to acquaint Council about suits against the School at the High Court, Winneba.
- October 31, 2017: Interim report submitted, and on the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Committee; Council asks six officers to step aside.
These individuals are:
- Mawutor Avoke (Vice Chancellor)
- Theopilus Senyo Ackorlie (Finance Officer”
- Frank Owusu Boateng (Deputy Finance Officer)
- Ms Sena Dake (Internal Auditor)
- Mary Dzimey (Ag. Head of Procurement)
- Daniel Tetteh (Ag. Deputy Director of Works & Physical Development)
- December 20, 2017: Supreme Court quashes the decision of the Winneba High Court to determine the merits of the case brought before by Supi Kofi Kwayera. The matter was brought before the Supreme Court by the Winneba Chapter of UTAG.
- December 28, 2017: Governing Council reappointed Pro-Vice Chancellor as Acting Vice-Chancellor
- February 2018: Kaakyire Duku, Prof. Mawutor Avoke and 4 others filed an application at the Cape Coast High Court 2, against UEW challenging among others the dismissal of 5 officers and demanding their reinstatement, the appointment of the then Ag. Vice-Chancellor and his nomination of 3 Professors for Pro-Vice Chancellor election, as well as the holding of the April 2018 congregation ceremonies
- February 20, 2018: Supi Kofi Kwayera caused a Writ of Summon to be issued against UEW and MOE.
- May 2, 2018: High Court, Winneba delivered judgment; granting all the declaratory reliefs endorsed on Writ of Summon, thus making all appointments made by ‘defunct’ Governing Council as null and void and of no legal effect
- September 13, 2018: Case filed in High Court, Accra by a sacked group which identified itself as ’Concerned Staff, Students and Members of the General Public’ aimed at placing an injunction on the investiture of Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni
- September 16, 2018: Professor Raymond Atuguba warns Akufo-Addo his presence at the investiture of Rev Prof Afful-Broni would amount to abetting an illegality.
- September 17, 2018: President graces the investiture ceremony of Rev. Fr. Prof. Afful-Broni.
- September 20, 2018: High Court throws out the injunction application by ‘Concerned Staff, Students and Members of the General Public’.
- October 31, 2018: Supreme Court overturned a High Court Winneba ruling. The Winneba High Court had asked then VC, Avoke to step aside when a case was brought before it about the tenure of the University’s Governing Council.
- November 20, 2018: Prof Avoke and Dr. Ackolie’s lawyer, Lawyer Harold Atuguba, writes to University, that they would like to resume office and have their entitlements paid.
- November 21, 2018: Lawyer Harold Atuguba files a suit at Cape Coast High Court on behalf of clients to have the High Court to overturn the decision of the Governing Council to dismiss Prof. Avoke.
- November 23, 2018: Chairman of UEW Governing Council, Prof. Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah, responds to a letter sent on the November 21 by Atuguba (on behalf of Prof. Avoke and Dr. Ackorlie), that the two remained dismissed and would be declared persona non grata should they assemble on the Campus.
- January 15, 2019: Supreme Court dismisses application by Avoke to have him reinstated as Vice Chancellor.
- March 1, 2019: Cape Coast High Court 2, threw out a criminal contempt application filed by Counsel Harold Atuguba for Dr. Kaakyire Duku, Prof. Mawutor Avoke, Dr. Theophilus Ackorlie, Mr. Frank Owusu-Boateng, Ms. Mary Dzimey, Ing. Daniel Tetteh against the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), Chairman of the Governing Council, Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar of the University.
- March 7, 2019: Governing Council meets and institutes disciplinary actions on four staff members after adverse findings were made.
- March 12, 2019: Minor protests by students on hearing the news of the sacking of some lecturers.
- March 14, 2019: Regional Coordinating council closes down UEW main campus indefinitely; a massive demonstration by students resulted in the destruction of school property estimated at some GH¢ 250,000.00
- March 19, 2019: UEW branch of UTAG petitions the Governing Council seeking the reinstatement of 23 dismissed staff include Prof Avoke
- Governing Council organizes a media conference where they addressed key issues: The Council’s disciplinary decision on staff, national UTAG’s position on Council’s Disciplinary Decision and the call on the Vice-Chancellor to resign.
- March 21, 2019: A group calling itself Concerned Students and Alumni of the University of Education, Winneba issued a statement questioning the Governing Council insistence on keeping Prof Afful-Broni as VC and their refusal to reinstate the dismissed lecturers.
- March 22, 2019: High Court 2, Cape Coast to hear the motion of judicial notice on Dr. Samuel Ofori Bekoe’s dismissal and reinstatement
- April 12, 2019: High Court 2, Cape Coast to hear the case of Dr. Kaakyire Duku challenging the dismissals and seeking reinstatement of Prof. Avoke and 4 others.
The events at one of the country’s docile universities are so much chronological and seemed so well orchestrated; one will be naïve to say they happened independent and exclusive of each other, especially the suit at the Winneba High Court that set in motion the sackings, demotions etc of some 36 staff and demonstrations that resulted in the indefinite closure of the University.
It mimics another similar lawsuit in the same constituency four years ago, where one Benjamin Eyi Mensah, an Assemblyman aspirant, after being disqualified, took on the Electoral Commission (EC) in a landmark case that saw the EC lose.
Member of the Parliament and Legal Practitioner Alexander Afenyo Markin happens to be lawyer to both citizens.
The events look something like a season from the popular American thriller political TV series ‘House of Cards’.
If you are unfamiliar with the said series, it tells of greed, corruptions and quest for power; a Congressman who was pivotal in the election of a President and wishing to be the Secretary of State was told by the President he was more valuable in Congress.
The bitter congressman makes a pact with his wife and together they do all things possible to not only get what they want but to be President(s); because their greed and manipulations were so deep not only the Congressman, but his wife as well becomes president.
The only departure in the University of Education, Winneba story and that of House of Cards are that the script that kick-started the whole drama is now being written differently by each player that has fallen foul of the initial one (if there was one); and sure, it won’t be a 13-episode per season drama; this is for a lifetime.
When Prof. Avoke was re-elected in 2010, some 270 individuals representing 72.2% of the membership of the convocation had the mandate to give him that power. It was obvious he enjoyed goodwill across board and was not entirely because he came from a particular place in Ghana or belonged to a particular political party.
So when his tenure had ended in 2013, he should have done the honourable like any well-meaning citizen; resign or put into action a process that would have had him reinstated.
His ‘sin’ is a plague that afflicts almost all African leaders poisoned with political expediency and greed, birthing the chaos we are witnessing now.
It is obvious a lot of what has gone wrong and spiraling into a crisis cannot really be resolved.
But the Education Minister and the very senior minister at the Presidency in charge of tertiary education, Prof Yankah, would have to show leadership. Holding meetings and giving side interviews on the happenings at the UEW aren’t enough.
Truth is they stood aside, participated and were privy to the happenings at UEW and would actually have to show more than commitment and leadership.
One can only pray this doesn’t become a wound the University of Education, Winneba must bear for eternity.
By Cyril Delali Dogbe|3news.com|Ghana