But for God, I’d have been lynched today – ‘suspended’ Wa Poly Rector
Prof Emmanuel Marfo-Owusu, the embattled Rector of the Wa Polytechnic has been explaining how he managed to escape a mob attack on campus on Monday afternoon.
According to him, but for God’s intervention, “these people would have lynched me today,” he said.
Read also: Wa Polytechnic Rector chased out of campus
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Some angry lecturers at the Wa Polytechnic chased Prof Emmanuel Marfo-Owusu out of campus with clubs and stones on Monday.
The Wa Polytechnic chapter of the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), has leveled a series of allegations of financial malfeasance and breaches of procurement processes against Prof Marfo-Owusu.
Prof Marfo-Owusu has been accused by the lecturers of breaching procurement regulations in the purchase of a Mercedez Benz vehicle (pictured below) worth about Gh₵500,000.
The matter has attracted the attention of the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education and the Rector has been suspended by the Governing Council for investigations to continue.
But Prof Marfo-Owusu has challenged that decision in court and so armed with court documents asking him to continue with his work until May 15, 2018 when the court will rule on the mater, he went to the campus on Monday.
His presence on campus on Monday infuriated the lecturers who have said they don't want to see him around until investigations are concluded.
Prof Marfo-Owusu is said to have questioned why his office had been locked and threatened to sack a security officer, after the latter told him to find out from the Estate Department why the office had been locked since he was only a security officer.
The lecturers blocked the road to prevent Prof Marfo-Owusu from driving away and told him they were going to seize the benz vehicle.
After some verbal exchanges, Prof Marfo-Owusu attempted to drive off campus but the lecturers ran after him chanting that he was a "thief."
“I had gone to the police station to report that they had changed my locks at my office and so when I came back, I said let me go and get something to eat at the restaurant,” Prof Marfo-Owusu explained in a radio interview with Accra based Joy FM Monday evening.
Narration of incident
“So whilst there, I saw that a group of people have come to put stones behind my car and again wood logs close to where I usually park. So when I saw it, I said what is this and then Mr Mubashi, who is the head of the group said Prof, you are not taking the car away today, and I said what is the problem.”
“So I got into the car and then I drove back, they thought it would not be able to climb the logs but thanks be to God, I was able to climb it with the car.
Thanks be to God
“And then when I started trying to get closer to where the wood logs were, I saw that they were having a lot of sticks, stones and wood logs, they wanted to attack me, then I said no, this wood log that is infront of me, so huge, I will make it, so I just tried my best to get closer to it and then moved the car very fast and then thanks be to God, I was able to climb it.
“Then on trying to proceed, I saw that they had even blocked the main road … so I used a different space, … and then I was able to drive off otherwise these people would have lynched me today," he added.
Narrating the rationale for the latest action, Prof Marfo-Owusu said last week Monday he got a WhatsApp message from the National Council of Tertiary Education (NCTE) Secretary, Prof Salifu asking that the Minister wanted to meet him with Governing Council, the Finance officer and the Registrar on Wedneday.
“So I told him that please can you tell him [Minister] that I am not feeling well, I’m treating malaria and so I cannot come if he could postpone it to the following Wednesday, I will appreciate that.”
“And then after some time I got a message from Prof Salifu again stating that the Minister says that he insist that I come and if I don’t come, he will take his decision anyway.”
According to Prof Marfo-Owusu, he questioned why the Minster wanted to authorise and impose his decision on him to come to the meeting without looking at the state of his health.
“I told the NCTE Secretary that please you tell him that I’m sick and I cannot come.”
That same day the Council Chairman also called to relay the same information and according to Prof Marfo-Owusu when he told the chairman what had happened, and that he had told the Minister he will not be able to come and that the meeting should be postponed, the council chairman interestingly called the Minister and told him that I have said the meeting had been postponed.
“So the Minister wrote back, this time with a text message and said that I hope you are not the one who told your chairman that the meeting has been postponed. And then he wrote …the meeting will be at the International Conference Centre.
"On Wednesday they had their meeting and in the evening I even got a message that the conclusion of their meeting was that I step aside for them to continue with their investigation so I said I will wait for their letter and then on Thursday I got a letter from Accra from the Council Chairman.
Upon my lawyer's advice that “it is wrong for him to write a suspension letter because, you were never there, you were never given a hearing , given a suspension letter means it is a punishment and for you to be suspended, they need to give you a hearing…”
“I got documents from my lawyer that I should send it to court and file it there and we filed it there and the bailiff sent the summons to the school today [Monday] and the instructions from my lawyer and the court was that I can continue my work until 15th of May when the hearing will come on and ruling will also come on if it is possible for that same day so that is why I went there.”
‘Expensive’ Mercedez benz
Responding to concerns that the vehicle he bought was expensive, Prof Marfo-Owusu said if they were thinking that the car is very expensive, that is their problem.
“…in my conditions of service, they never stressed that the car should be 500 or 800 or 200,000 or 150,000 that you buy, It says any car of your choice, there was no threshold of how much the car should cost and so if there is any problem in buying that car at that high price, it is the problem of the conditions of service as per written and so that is something they should look at.”
Adding, he said the idea of saying that he did not follow the procurement process, “look they can bring people from what do you call it, Public Accounts Committee to come and investigate me for that and then they will see every paper that we used, we followed the procurement process.”
“When I went to the school last year 1st February 2017, it was the acting Finance Officer who brought me the document saying that budget plan for 2017 was approved by the IMC (Interim Management Committee) and that it is time for them to seek permission from the NCTE and then again GETFUND for them to start spending.