The Vice Chancellors of Ghana have taken strong exception to the invasion of the University of Ghana by the National Security Coordinator, Lt Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (rtd) and his boys, leading to the demolishing of a security post at the Legon campus.
The Vice Chancellors have described the action of the National Security capo as lawless because it did not follow due process.
The group insisted that the kind of conducive environment required for effective teaching and learning at the university had been breached with the ‘Rambo’ style demolishing of the security post, which was to be used for the collection of the controversial road tolls at Legon.
The VCs acknowledged that though government showed disapproval of the tolling of the roads through a message from the Chief of Staff at the Presidency – that the administration was ready to pick up the bills – nothing was heard from them until Gbevlo moved his boys and bulldozers to the site.
National Security operatives at about 1:30 am on February 18, 2014, according to the VCG, invaded the Legon campus, pulling down a toll booth erected by the University of Ghana authorities to collect road tolls from motorists entering the campus.
The National Security Coordinator later confirmed the demolition saying that the university authorities had no right to put up the toll booth at the Okponglo section of the road leading to the university campus.
“The next time they put another block there, we will go and remove it; that structure cannot be there,” Gbevlo charged.
The Vice Chancellors, in a statement signed by Prof. Akwasi Asabre-Ameyaw, Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, after a February 27, 2014 meeting and issued in Accra yesterday, condemned Col. Gbevlo-Lartey’s unilateral decision to pull down the structures, indicating that the demolition “was done without prior discussions with the university management.”
The statement continued, “VCG therefore condemns unreservedly the demolition action by the National Security Coordinator without following the due process as required by law and also when the university had already taken steps to ease the traffic that has been cited as justification of the structures.”
The statement noted that faced with the reality that government subvention was unable to match up with the ever-growing needs of the university for both recruitment and capital expenditure, the public universities, including the University of Ghana, had, over the last few years, undertaken a number of projects aimed at mobilizing resources from other sources to meet their needs.
According to the VCs, to add salt to injury, the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) had stepped into the matter days after the demolition incident in a very questionable way.
EOCO was said to have written to the UG authorities to provide documentation to show that due process was followed in awarding the contract for the road construction, among others.
Beyond the VCs’ disappointment in the conduct of the National Security Coordinator, they also expressed worry over government’s deafening silence over the matter.
“To date government has not commented on the matter of the demolition,” it said, calling on the government to take urgent steps to restore confidence in the security apparatus and safety of life and property at all the universities, particularly the public ones.
By so doing, the VCs said, the public would be assured of the conducive environment required for teaching and learning at the institutions of higher learning.
They also wanted government to investigate the matter and apply the necessary sanctions.
They indicated their willingness to hold discussions with the government over challenges facing tertiary institutions and the country as a whole.