High Court orders removal of VC, Registrar of C.K. Tedam University
The Bolgatanga High Court has ordered the removal of two principal officers of the C.K. Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences in Navrongo for being in office despite reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60.
They are the Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor Eric Magnus Wilmot, and the Registrar of the university, Dr Vincent A. Ankamah Lomotey.
On March 20, this year, the plaintiff, Joseph Pwoawuvi Weguri, filed a joint case against the university, the Attorney-General, Prof. Wilmot and Dr Lomotey as first, second, third and fourth defendants.
He wanted a declaration that the purported appointment of the third and fourth defendants as VC and Registrar by the first defendant was null and void.
It also sought an order compelling the two officers to refund all sums of money, including salaries and allowances they received during the period of nullity.
The plaintiff also asked for cost to be awarded against the defendants, including legal fees of the plaintiff.
The court, presided over by Justice Charles Adjei Wilson, in a ruling said the third and fourth defendants did not fall under Article 70 office holders and that the only basis on which a public officer of tertiary institution could continue in office after he or she had attained retirement age was by virtue of a contractual employment.
The court said “in this case as far as this court was able to ascertain, no contract was sought nor obtained by the two defendants for the grant of extension of time to remain in office beyond the retirement age”.
The judge in his consequential ruling ordered a perpetual injunction restraining the third and fourth defendants from holding themselves out as VC and Registrar of the university and further prohibited them from taking any steps to perform any duties and functions on their post forthwith.
Subsequently, the university’s governing council shall nominate or appoint an interim management board pending the appointment of a new VC and a registrar to replace them.
In December 2020, the university appointed the third and fourth defendants for a full term of four years after the two had retired from public service.
The two officers attained compulsory retirement age of 60 years in April 2022 and August 2021 respectively, but they remained in office.
Statement of claim
In his statement of claim, he contended that the public service laws of Ghana, especially Article 199 of the 1992 Constitution as amended by Act 527, required public officers to retire from full-term service at the age of 60.
The plaintiff said the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission and the Ministry of Finance cautioned public universities, including first defendant, on appointment and post-retirement contracts in a circular dated June 8, 2021 and a written directive issued by the minister.
He argued that before the appointment of the third defendant as the VC who had retired as a public officer at the University of Cape Coast in 2019 by the university (first defendant), he was first appointed as an interim VC.
He said the continuous occupation of office and drawing of salaries and allowance from the consolidated fund by the third and fourth defendants as public officers in full employment after retiring from office was not only unlawful but illegal.
The plaintiff contended further that first and second defendants acted in an unlawful, arbitrary and capricious manner by giving full-term employment to the third and fourth defendants and said: “I petitioned the Minister of Education and the university for the removal of the two and the governing council was directed to consider the petition”.
However, he noted that on January 12, 2023, the governing council issued an unfavourable determination of the petition stating that the VC and the Registrar were appointed in accordance with the law.
Counsel for the defendants, Louisa Babilah, an Assistant State Attorney, stated that though Act 1,000 mandated the university to appoint its officers, including VC and Registrar, the provision in the university’s statute referenced by the plaintiff did not apply to the appointment of foundation VC and Registrar.
She argued that the interim appointment of the third and fourth defendants in April 2020 was converted by the university’s council to full-term appointment on December 1, 2020.
Meanwhile, following the court ruling, the governing council at an emergency meeting on November 28, 2023, has appointed the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Samson Abah Abagale, as acting Vice-Chancellor, and the Deputy Registrar, Gilbert Ansoglenang, as acting Registrar.
The council has initiated processes for the appointment of a substantive VC and a Registrar.