The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has directed all members of the association in public universities to withhold their services, effective Monday, September 18, this year in solidarity with the strike ation embarked on by their colleagues at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) to protest a court order for its vice-chancellor to step aside.
The association has also given a one-week ultimatum to all concerned parties in the impasse at UEW to resolve the issues or face stiffer actions.
The directive was contained in a statement signed by the National President of the association, Dr Harry L.K. Agbanu.
The statement, which was made available to the Daily Graphic yesterday, described the current happenings at UEW as an attack on academic freedom.
“It is our firm believe that the issues at UEW is an attack on academic freedom and thus, affects all public universities in the country.
“The NEC, however, appeals to all members to diligently perform all other duties placed on them by their appointments. NEC will review its decision at the upcoming UTAG congress to be held on September 22, 2017,” the statement said.
Stating further reasons to buttress its directive, UTAG described the imposition of an acting vice-chancellor on the UEW by the High Court as a gross violation of the UEW Act and statuses.
The university teachers’ body further stressed that the recently inaugurated governing board of the UEW did not show any interest in taking steps to resolve the impasse.
“Particularly, the posturing of the Council Chairman who has rather made matters worse by writing to the UEW lawyer to withdraw the whole appeal process by the university from the Appeals Court and the stay of execution of the injunction order issued by the High Court is a clear case of ill intention in pursuit of sabotaging the substantive vice-chancellor,” the group stressed.
According to the statement, UTAG found the lack of interest by the Ministry of Education (MoE), especially by not being represented in Court even though the ministry had been cited as the second respondent in the case, as disappointing.
The group also said the posture of the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, who did not show interest in facilitating a meeting with some stakeholders to resolve the issues, was unacceptable.
The legal action against the UEW at the Winneba High Court was initiated in May 2017 by Supi Kofi Kwayera, a former assembly member of Donkoryiem, a suburb of Winneba. The Minister of Education was joined in the application as second respondent.
Supi Kwayera claimed that the tenure of the Governing Council (GC) of the UEW elapsed in November 2013 after its members had served a two-year term twice.
According to him, the Ministry of Education failed to constitute a new GC and allowed the “defunct” council to continue to operate, contrary to Section 8 of the University of Education, Winneba Act (ACT 672).
He also argued in his lawsuit that the GC appointed certain officers of the university such as the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar and Finance Officer and also “approved Academic Board recommendations for the award of certificates and honorary degrees’’ although it had “no such mandate.’’
The applicant further claimed that the council awarded “contracts to several companies to undertake projects without recourse to the Procurement Act 663’’.
On July 14, 2017, the High Court in Winneba ordered the Vice-Chancellor of the UEW, Professor Mawutor Avokeh, to step aside until a case brought against him was determined.
The order was part of the reliefs granted for the interlocutory injunction sought by the plaintiff, Supi Kofi Kwayera, in the case brought against the university, which insisted that the vice- chancellor and the finance officer were operating under the institution’s defunct governing council.