Brouhaha over restricted access: Bill to curb powers of Legon

Parliament has initiated moves to remove Section Three of the University of Ghana Act, 2010 (Act 806) which empowers the institution to restrict entry to its premises.

Pursuant to that, a private member’s motion has been filed to amend the act and allow free entry into the university by all manner of persons.

Sources within the Majority Group in Parliament disclosed this to the Daily Graphic but declined to say which particular member had tabled the motion.

Section Three of Act 806 states: “A person who is not a member of the university shall not enter the premises of the university or have access to the facilities or privileges of the university without the permission of the university.”

The law empowers the university to stop non-members from entering its premises.

It is expected that in the course of the week the motion will be moved on the floor of the House and the steps preceeding the removal of the clause taken. Muntaka fails to deny or confirm

The Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, who has been at the forefront of moves to have the  controversial clause removed, told the Daily Graphic Monday that Parliament was awaiting the return of the Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, to determine what path to chart on the matter.

He said Mr Adjaho was out of the jurisdiction last week when the issue was discussed on the floor and it was, therefore, proper that his views were sought on the issue before any comments were made.

“I do not want to confirm or deny the issue,” he said, adding, “We need to clear it with the Speaker first before discussing it in the media or raising it on the floor of the House.”

“Until then,” he said, “I think it will be improper to discuss it in the media.” Muntaka’s earlier moves

The controversial clause which the university sought to operationalise last week led to public outcry and calls to have the law repealed.

Earlier last week, Alhaji Muntaka, on the floor of Parliament, had drawn the House’s attention to the sticker policy of the university under which any member of the public who sought to enter the premises through all entrances except one was required to purchase a sticker which cost GHc400. Some MPs had been prevented from entering the university.

Alhaji Muntaka was of the view that the university was acting like a republic and added that the House needed to take a second look at the law.

Many members of the House, including Alfred Agbesi (NDC, Ashaiman) and Dominic Nitiwul (NPP, Bimbilla), had expressed similar sentiments and said there was the need for action on the part of Parliament. Are all MPs in agreement?

But it is unclear whether all members of the House will support the motion.

The member for Bekwai, Mr Joe Osei-Owusu,  said personally, he would not support any such motion.

He told the Daily Graphic that he did not agree with moves to take away the power to regulate the use of the facilities of the university from the authorities.

“If the university authorities cannot regulate the use of the school’s facilities, then who can?” he asked.

He expressed the hope that any such motion was not to say that the university did not have the power to regulate the use of its facilities.

According to Mr Osei-Owusu, parents whose children were at the university and the University Primary School were not against the purchase of stickers but the quantum of the amount they had to pay.

On the requirement that students who owned cars should also purchase stickers,  the MP for Bekwai said that had always been the case.

He said when he was a student at the university, any student who owned a car was made to register it with his or her hall master and payments were made to that effect.

Perhaps what had led to the disagreement with the authorities at Legon on the purchase of stickers, he said, was how much each sticker was sold for.

Last week when the issue was being discussed on the floor, some members on the Minority side noted that what was happening at Legon could not be said to be an outright restriction.

In their view, it amounted to entrance upon fulfilling certain conditions.

They failed to condemn the university outright as majority of the members who had spoken on the issue had done.

It remains to be seen whether the few members will be swayed when the issue is thoroughly discussed in the course of this week.

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