Lawyers of dismissed former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, Professor Mawutor Avoke, have written a letter to the school’s Governing Council directing it to prepare the office of their client to enable him to resume work on Monday, November 26, 2018.
The lawyers also want same accord to be extended to former Finance Officer of the University, Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling on the dismissal as grounds for their demands.
Last month, the Supreme Court quashed a high court decision that led to their suspension and subsequent dismissal.
“In effect, immediately the said judgement of the High Court, Winneba, was quashed by the Supreme Court on 31st of October 2018, our clients automatically resumed the erstwhile positions they respectively held in the University prior to the decision of the High Court, Winneba dated 2nd May, 2018,” the letter stated.
“Prepare their offices and make available to them the necessary tools and resources necessary for them to resume work not later than the 26th of November, 2018,” the lawyers demanded in the letter signed by lawyer Harold Tivah Atuguba, and copied the office of the President and six other state institutions.
“Pay all the entitlements due to our clients, which the University of Education, Winneba, illegally and unreasonably withheld from them from the time of their illegal interdictions, through to their illegal dismissals, and to date,” the letter added.
Avoke and Ackorlie’s lawyers warned they will resort to other avenues to have their demand met if the Governing Council turns a blinds eye to their letter.
“We wish to advise, and advice is hereby given, that should you, within seven (7) days of receipt of this letter, fail to commit, unequivocally, to meeting the above demands, we shall proceed and resort to other lawful processes or avenues to vindicate the constitutional, statutory, and legal rights of our clients without further recourse to you,” the letter added.
Supreme Court quashes High Court ruling on Avoke’s removal
The Supreme Court on October 31, 2018, overturned a High Court decision which led to the removal of Professor Mawutor Avoke as Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba.
According to the unanimous ruling, the High Court in Winneba failed to take evidence from the parties in the case before granting judgment.
The court also stated that the High Court breached the rule of natural justice by failing to give the defendants a hearing.
The justices of the apex court said the High Court’s actions amounted to an error of law patent on the record.
Following the Winneba High Court’s ruling in December 2017, Prof Avoke, together with some other Principal Officers of the University, was removed by the school’s Governing Council.
Some lecturers described this as politically motivated.
New VC inducted
Rev. Prof. Fr. Anthony Afful-Broni was subsequently inducted into office as the 4th Vice Chancellor of the UEW despite Prof. Avoke’s case in court.
President Nana Akufo-Addo attended the induction.
Prior to the induction, Prof. Avoke’s former lawyer, Raymond Atuguba, warned the President he would be abetting illegality if he went ahead with the induction.
This is because of the case that was pending at the Supreme Court challenging Avoke’s removal.
Prof. Atuguba said he was alarmed by the President’s involvement given his “admirable Rule of Law credentials.”
Prof. Atuguba withdrew his representation of the former Vice-Chancellor in open court because he reportedly said he “sensed unseen hands” manipulating proceedings.
The genesis of Avoke’s woes
The Winneba High Court in 2017 ordered Prof Avoke, to step aside until the case brought against him and the University’s Governing Council was determined.
The case was taken to 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 argued that 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 the defunct Governing Council which had no mandate whatsoever to continue in the functions of a properly formed Governing Council.
Supi Kofi Kwayera also alleged financial and procurement irregularities on the part of the Prof Avoke.
The court, in July 2017, then ordered Prof Avoke to step aside until a case brought against him and the University’s Governing Council was determined.
Also in July, Prof Avoke, along with four others; the Finance Officer, Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie; Daniel Tetteh, Mary Dzimey and Frank Owusu Boateng, were interdicted by the school after it emerged that some vital documents at some offices at the centre of an ongoing investigation had disappeared.
They were then found guilty of procurement and other financial irregularities in December 2017.
The irregularities had to do with the monies paid to the contractors of the North Campus Roads project.
In August 2018, the UEW governing council dismissed the five principal officers of the institution after a fact-finding committee had been set up to look into the matter.
Prof Avoke had maintained his innocence and had been challenging his indictment in court.
He took the case to the Labour Division of the Accra High Court, but the case was beyond its jurisdiction.
This compelled his challenge in the Supreme Court.