The Governing Council of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) has stated that due process was followed in the dismissal of some members of staff of the university, including three senior lecturers.
According to the council, every member of staff of the UEW who had been dismissed, suspended or demoted was taken through the due process of the law, in accordance with Schedule G of the UEW statutes.
The university dismissed some members of staff and lecturers, which action sparked off student protests, leading to the indefinite closure of the Winneba and the Ajumako campuses of the university.
Addressing a press conference at the council’s Chamber last Monday night to respond to recent happenings in the university, the Chairman of the council, Professor Emmanuel Nicholas Abakah, said the events that led to the dismissal, termination, demotion or suspension of some staff had been maliciously presented and used as the rationale for the violent attacks on lives and property at the university.
Before addressing the media, members of the governing council and other management members undertook a tour of the North, Central and South campuses of the university in Winneba to ascertain the extent of destruction of facilities and vehicles by rampaging students, the cost of which the council estimates at GH¢250,000.
Facilities destroyed include the main administration block, the registry, the demonstration room, the departments of HPER, French Education and Graphic Design and the Educational Resource Centre.
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Others are the registrar’s duty post, the Executive Guest House, the Food Processing Unit restaurant, the Josephus Anamuah-Mensah Conference Centre, the School of Creative Arts, ATMs, the Osagyefo Library, air conditioners and some vehicles.
Prof. Abakah refuted claims by the National President of UTAG, Dr Eric Opoku Mensah, that the dismissals were based on some trumped-up charges and that the university failed to take the affected people through due process.
He said the assertions by the UTAG President were full of inaccuracies, outright lies and fabrications meant to disparage the governing council, create chaos and cause indiscipline on the university’s campuses.
Dismissal of Dr Frimpong Duku
Touching on Dr Frimpong Kaakyire Duku’s dismissal, he noted that the timeline of the disciplinary action against him commenced on July 23, 2018 and ended with the submission of the disciplinary board’s letter to the acting vice-chancellor (V-C) on August 28, 2018.
He indicated that Dr Duku was handed the letter inviting him to meet an investigative body set up to investigate his conduct on July 20, 2018, which he did and made submissions but decided not to appear before the disciplinary board with a letter from his lawyers advising him not to make any appearance.
“Failure to appear before a disciplinary board without any justifiable reason constituted gross misconduct and that by failing to appear before the board, Dr Duku showed gross misconduct and disrespected the authority of the governing council,” he noted.
Prof. Abakah maintained that Prof. Avea Nsoh’s disciplinary action followed similar due process that was used for Dr Duku where a disciplinary board, comprising high-profile members of the council and other individuals, was constituted to address the charges that had been levelled against him.
He pointed that the board found that Prof. Nsoh, the Principal of the College of Languages, Ajumako, had organised a seminar on campus on a matter that was before the Winneba High Court, without due approval from management, made wicked insinuations and unreasonably attacked management, as well as habitually absented himself from duty and on several occasions showed no regard for authority in the university.
He added that Prof. Nsoh, through his behaviour and several interactions in the media, had shown that he held the administration, led by the current V-C, in contempt, adding that “the disciplinary action taken against him was as a result of his errant behaviour that was highly unbecoming of a principal and senior member of the university”.
Dr Osei Sarpong’s dismissal
On Dr Sarpong’s dismissal, the chairman of the council noted that Dr Sarpong too was also taken through due process, as he appeared before both the investigative and the disciplinary boards and was found to have misconducted himself.
Stating the grounds on which he was dismissed, Prof. Abakah pointed out that Dr Sarpong walked out on him and the governing council at its meeting held on February 22, 2018, without permission, which was considered an act of insubordination, misconduct and unacceptable.
“Dr Sarpong and Dr Duku were captured on video urging the demonstrating students on and inciting them to upscale the unruly behaviour that led to violence and destruction on the campus,” he added.
With reference to calls by the UTAG President for the V-C, Rev. Fr Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni, to resign, Prof. Abakah said the authority to dismiss a V-C was the council’s sole prerogative, as provided for in Section 12(1) and (2) of Act 672 and did not intend to share it with any other entity.
“The council resolves that Prof. Afful-Broni will remain as the substantive V-C and will be supported to carry out his mandate until the end of his tenure in 2021,” he stressed.
Prof. Abakah indicated further that the demonstration led to the destruction of critical facilities which had to be repaired before the students could be asked to report back to the two campuses.
He said the “council is in the process of constituting an investigative committee to unravel the circumstances and the rationale behind the unrest”.
The university council would consider any petition it might receive from the affected staff which would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, he added.
When the Daily Graphic contacted Prof. Nsoh for his reaction, he maintained that the charges against him were trumped up and targeted at him and others who held dissenting views on the running of the UEW.
According to him, he was being hounded out because he had been vociferous against the actions of the V-C and the governing council chairman, hence the attempt to chase him out to give proper meaning to the culture of silence in the university.
Prof. Nsoh said lecturers who openly showed disagreement with the council had been targeted.
He, therefore, called on the Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, to call the council to order, since its actions were detrimental to the growth and development of the UEW.
“What is going on at the UEW is unacceptable and the government must take immediate steps to ensure peace and unity, since the university community is highly polarised,” he stated.
He stressed that although the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had called on the current V-C to promote reconciliation during his investiture, he was rather doing the opposite by continuously dismissing members of staff who questioned his actions and those of the council.
“I wish to call on Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Education, to ensure the dissolution of the governing council for refusing to soften its position and defying his order to it to immediately reinstate all the dismissed staff,” he said.
He said he would continue to use the legal avenue to fight his dismissal by the governing council.