Wa Poly staff prevent rector from entering office

BY: Emmanuel Moddey
 Professor Emmanuel Owusu-Marfo
Professor Emmanuel Owusu-Marfo

Aggrieved staff of the Wa Polytechnic on Friday forcibly prevented the Rector of the institution, Professor Emmanuel Owusu-Marfo, from assuming office, in spite of a court ruling that quashed his suspension.

The staff, who felt disappointed with the decision of the Wa High Court to quash the suspension of their rector, locked up the administration block of the institution and detailed some unknown well-built men at the entrance to prevent Prof. Owusu-Marfo and other senior officers, including the Internal Auditor, from occupying their offices.

The rector decided to resume work after the Wa High Court had last Wednesday declared as unlawful a decision taken by the Governing Council of the polytechnic to suspend him from office.

In its ruling, the High Court ordered that Prof. Owusu-Marfo be restored to his position and awarded costs of GH¢5,000 against the council.

Aggrieved parties

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Following the High Court’s decision, one would have thought that the aggrieved parties would allow the rector to resume office.

However, Prof. Owusu-Marfo received the shock of his life when the staff defied the High Court order and prevented him from going to his office.

In an interview, he said he was surprised at the behaviour of the aggrieved staff, as their action was an affront to the orders of the High Court, which is not just an arbiter but also enforcer of the rule of law.

He said he was going to get in touch with his lawyer to see the next line of action, stressing: “I am ready to submit myself to any committee that will be constituted to investigate the so-called allegations against me. However, this must be done within laid down procedure and the principle of the rule of law.”  

Prof. Owusu-Marfo also indicated that he had received a letter from the governing council to attend a meeting but he declined because he was not sure of his safety and the capacity in which he had been invited, since the council had failed to take steps to comply with the High Court’s decision.

Governing Council

The Wa Polytechnic Governing Council had, on April 4, this year, suspended Prof. Owusu-Marfo following allegations of corruption and financial malfeasance levelled against him by some staff of the institution.

The suspension, according to the council, was to pave the way for investigations to be conducted into the allegations to ascertain their veracity.

The allegations included verbal and physical abuse of staff, financial irregularities, disregard for laid down procurement procedures and directives of council on the implementation of government's fiscal policies.

However, the decision of the council did not go down well with the rector, who filed a suit challenging the decision of the council to suspend him without recourse to laid down procedures.

Prof. Owusu-Marfo’s lawyer, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, had argued that his client had not been given a fair hearing by the council in its preliminary investigations and, therefore, it was wrong for the council to issue a directive suspending him from office.

He was of the view that since the decision to suspend his client was a punitive one, Prof. Owusu-Marfo should have been given a hearing within the rules of natural justice.

Consequently, he prayed the court to set aside the decision by the council and restore the rector to his office.

The trial judge, Mr Justice Kwasi Boakye, upheld the argument and ruled that the decision by the council to suspend Prof. Owusu-Marfo breached the rules of natural justice.

He quashed the decision of the council and awarded costs of GH¢5,000 against it.