University of Education Winneba
University of Education Winneba

Introduction

On May 07, 2018, Rt. Rev Prof Afful-Broni, Ag. Vice-Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba organized a press conference on the Winneba campus and carried by ghanaweb.com in which he sought to respond to the damning and widespread human rights abuses rightly raised by Amnesty International, which he has been perpetuating since he took over. During that press conference, he veered off to make very spurious and unsubstantiated allegations against my person, another colleague, Dr. Vincent Adzahlie, and an officer of Amnesty International. According to him, in my case, he was responding to the GBC radio interview which I granted earlier. Anyone who listened to that interview would have heard that he declined to speak and the PRO of UEW also refused to react even though he had earlier accepted to grant the interview.

Ordinarily, I would not have responded to these untruths because most staff of the University know that all the things he said about me are not true, and are also aware that the culture of silence and human right abuses are widespread. Unfortunately, the Ghanaian public and the international audience are not aware of these falsehoods churned out by the Ag. VC. In particular, this is how he usually starts and then finally a so-called disciplinary committee is set up (Dr. Bekoe’s case, Lililian Shine and Agbesie) or by some other easy way (Dr. Atintono’s case) is found to dismiss you. It is also to inform some of our junior colleagues who do not understand and appreciate the realities on campus and yet are quick to jump to the defense of the Priest Ag. VC. Accordingly, I shall endeavor to take each of the accusations leveled against me and related matters to respond to them.

Appeal to Important Institutions and Individuals
Before I proceed with my response to the issues, let me take this opportunity to again appeal to the Minister of Education and the Minister of State -In-charge of Tertiary Education, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Arch-Bishop in Charge of the Cape Coast Arch-Diocese to act swiftly to call Rev. Afful-Broni to order. I say without any fear of contradiction that he is the only dividing force. As soon as he is out of the scene, normalcy will immediately be restored. Everyone is very scared of him to the extent that old ties are being dismantled for fear of someone going to report you to him for your dismissal.

I also wish to urge Amnesty International to proceed with their investigations and not to be cowed down by his threats because that is his modus operandi. There is a can of worms that you must uncover to save this institution.

Comments on Bekoe’s Court cases
I am surprised that Rev. Afful-Broni refused to comment on Dr. Bekoe’s issue with the explanation that he “…has gone to court over his dismissal, so we shall not discuss a matter that is before the court, to avoid making any contemptuous statements”. First, Dr. Bekoe had filed an injunction against his eviction and Prof Afful-Broni was duly served, yet he went ahead to order his eviction in the cruelest manner- he was evicted whiles it was raining; they cut the electricity and water supply; and removed all doors, windows and mosquito netting to the house. Second, some other injunction and contempt cases are pending against his appointment as Ag. Vice-Chancellor yet he comes to office as Ag. VC, chairs very important meetings, stops staff salaries and dismisses others with impunity. A few weeks ago, the Cape Coast High Court granted some staff leave for substituted service to post notices on the Winneba campus among others because he has been dodging service for contempt charges.

My alleged show of dislike for Ag. Vice-Chancellor and his Team
Let me put it on record that I do not dislike the Rt. Rev Afful-Broni or any member of his so-called team. I dislike those activities which have intimidated most of my colleagues into silence. Almost all the individual members he refers to as his team members are my personal friends. In one breath he accepts the court ruling and the obligations of the Act and Statutes of UEW to become Ag. Vice-Chancellor, then in another breath he breaks the same Statutes, rulings, Court injunctions and remain as Ag. Vice-Chancellor. For instance, when the Winneba High Court ruled that Prof Avoke, the Vice-Chancellor should step aside and that he should take over and act, he readily and hurriedly accepted. This was after the University lawyer explained to some top management members that the ruling was problematic because he, Prof. Afful-Broni, was also appointed by that same alleged defunct Council. Then that ruling was quashed by the Supreme Court, and then his tenure as Pro-Vice-Chancellor also ended. He still managed to get himself reappointed again, even though the UEW Statutes clearly specify that a senior dean should act in that instance. Meanwhile, during this period a number of persons, he perceives as questioning his right to continue as Ag. VC, are targeted. These are some of actions that I dislike not the Rt. Rev. Prof. Afful-Broni or his team.

My alleged incitement of students and Staff
I have never as Principal of the College of Languages Education incited students against the Rt. Rev Prof Afful-Broni. As Reverend Minister, I did not expect him to brandish such falsehood against me because the Bible says thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour. There have been moves recently to remove me. First, he said in my face that I had disrespected the committee that was set up to investigate Dr. Bekoe and Council. But he knows I never did such a thing in both cases so these claims died a natural death. Then he asked me recently under some strange circumstances to respond to some intriguing allegations. Within five weeks I have received queries. That would not work either. So it will be surprising that Rt. Rev. Prof Afful-Broni will have such strong basis as inciting students against management to remove me only to wait and come to express same at a press conference.

I have consistently expressed my concerns at Council, Appointments and Promotions meetings and other Committee meetings about his activities which continue to divide the University. I also trust the legal actions instituted at various courts intended to correct some of the wrongs he has caused at the University. My staff and students are very matured persons and do not need to be incited by me to fight him. Again, most of our staff are so scared of him that I wonder if anyone of them would have the courage to speak out or do anything against him. In the last few weeks, our students in the Ajumako campus have applied for some refund of their school fees. Together with the College Registrar and the College Finance Officer, we have worked with the student leadership to try to resolve the issue. Yet the Rt. Rev. Prof. Afful-Broni, called the SRC President on my campus to his office to tell him that he was aware some people were instigating him to cause trouble. It was only after his press conference that I realized that it was me he referred to. I do not need approval from Prof. Afful-Broni to pay student refunds, so why will I instigate students against him.

Open Lecture and the Culture of silence
It is surprising that he gave my open lecture on the UEW case as an example of the free speech and academic freedom on campus. I am also surprised that the journalists at the press conference did not take him on. Prof Afful-Broni did everything under the sun to restrain me from giving the lecture. He was very scared that I was going to expose him. First, he talked to the former Registrar, Dr. Akwaa Mensah, to deny me the venue for the Lecture. Dr. Mensah turned the request down. Then he proceeded to ask the Minister of State-in-charge of Tertiary Education to instruct me to stop; again, the astute academic and former Pro-Vice-Chancellor, refused. Next, he called all Deans and some Directors and asked them to impress on me to give up the lecture. These academics also refused. In all these cases, their reason, which was expected was that, this is an academic institution where public lectures are common and freedom of expression was guaranteed. When all these efforts failed, Prof. Afful-Broni caused the security to physically prevent staff, guests and the media from entering the venue for the lecture. Ultimately, the lecture was held in open space with touch lights, phone and headlights of cars. These were captured by the media. I am therefore surprised that such an event is rather cited as a case of free expression and academic freedom and not a case for the culture of silence and human rights violations.

Dr. Atintono as a Typical Case of Intimidation and the Culture of Silence
Dr. Atintono followed due process in order to take up the Fulbright scholarship in Florida, USA. Fulbright requested the University to write two letters to confirm that they will release Dr. Atintono, retain him as lecturer and pay his salary whiles he conducts his research in the USA. Fulbright is an internationally acclaimed programme and the funders would never approve any travel without serious commitment on the part of the University. The University through the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Mawutor Avoke, wrote the letters. Prof Afful-Broni was then Pro-Vice-Chancellor and therefore part of Management. When all the travel arrangements including the purchase of a ticket was completed, Prof. Afful-Broni claimed that Dr. Atintono had two more months to complete his bond after the PhD programme. This was at the time Prof. Avoke had been asked by the Winneba High court to step aside and Prof. Afful-Broni had taken over. During the same period that Prof. Afful-Broni turned down Dr. Atintono’s travel request, he granted a similar request to another colleague who had more than one year to complete her bond. In sacking Dr. Atintono for allegedly vacating his post, his Head of Department, the Dean of Faculty and myself, the College Principal were never informed nor consulted. How can a staff be sacked for vacating post without the consent of his immediate bosses who should have made the report for such an action to be taken in the first place.

The only reason for this action by the Ag. Vice-Chancellor is because Dr. Atintono was a secretary of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG)-Winneba Branch. The UTAG executives have maintained that Prof. Afful-Broni had occupied and continue to occupy the Ag. Vice-Chancellor position illegally. They also insist that Prof. Afful-Broni’s actions have affected UEW negatively. Consequently, they took the case to the Supreme Court and quashed it. He has therefore disliked the UTAG executives and all those who share similar opinions. Consequently, he removed Dr. Atintono and other UTAG executives who were appointed as Deans and Vice-Deans; caused UTAG elections in which Dr. Atintono won as Vice President to be annulled by the Winneba High Court and subsequently caused his removal as lecturer under the pretext that he vacated post.

Dr. Atintono has worked with the University for 18 goods years and he never intended leaving the University. This is supported by the fact that he made conscious efforts to seek approval for the Fulbright programme and duly received approval from the Vice-Chancellor to take up the scholarship.

Conclusion
As a reverend father, I expected him to remain silent and to quickly find ways to correct the wrongs when Amnesty International raised the alarm. Let me say without any shred of doubt that all the issues raised by Amnesty International are true and verifiable. Again, all he said about me are falsehoods as I have demonstrated above. I am determined to ensure that I clear my name whiles exposing the maltreatment staff by Prof Afful-Broni. I am ready to put my job on line for this.

Source: ephraim nsoh

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