General News of Tuesday, 18 July 2017
The University Teachers Association has described the court decision ordering the Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba and Finance Officer to step aside is an attack on academic freedom.
According to the Association, their members at the UEW campus who are currently on strike are being forced to work under it described as “court imposed management.”
Speaking on Eyewitness News on Monday, President of UTAG, Dr. Harry Agbenu said they will resist such attacks.
“The situation that we are having now is that our members in Winneba are being forced to work under a court imposed management against the rule, against the status. And for us we consider that as an attack on academic freedom.”
“So our principle is that…once academic freedom which is the prerequisite for any serious academic work in any university or anywhere in the world is under attack, we as members of UTAG have vowed to ourselves that we will resist that; even if it is the court, presidency, or anybody, whether it is political or whatever, that is not what we are thing about,” he added.
But the lawyer for the plaintiff in the case, Alex Afenyo Markin who earlier argued that the lecturers are in contempt of the court over their strike action while speaking on Eyewitness News rejected claims that the court decision is an attack on academic freedom.
“If UTAG is so dissatisfied, they should file an appeal. Academia holds our conscience as a society. They must not do anything that would undermine judges. They talk about freedom; they must understand that judges have freedom. UTAG is acting in bad faith. UTAG is setting a bad example for society,” Afenyo Markin who is also the Member of Parliament for Efutu added.
A Winneba High court last week ordered to the Vice Chancellor of UEW, Professor Mawutor Avokeh, to step aside until a case brought against him and the university’s Governing Council is determined.
The order also affected the institution’s Finance Officer.
The order was made in a case brought before the court by One, Supi Kofi Kwayera who insisted that the Vice Chancellor and the Finance Officer were operating under the institution’s defunct governing council.
The plaintiff adduced that the university’s council’s mandate had expired in November 2013, but the Education Ministry failed to constitute a new Governing Council for the university, and rather allowed and permitted the defunct Governing Council which had no mandate whatsoever to continue the functions of a properly constituted Governing Council as if same had been properly constituted.
This Mr. Kwayera insisted was unlawful, and hence his legal action against the University of Education, Winneba.
However, before the substantive claims were looked into, the University, through its counsel, applied to the court to dismiss the suit on the three counts, but the application was dismissed.
The University’s branch of the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG) also applied to join the application but it was turned down.