UEW: Avoke, 19 others suffering “pain”; “indicted” V-C must step aside – Rawlings

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Former President Jerry John Rawlings has said the Governing Council of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) must insist that the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Afful-Broni, who he said has been indicted by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for wrongdoing, step aside while investigations into the issues that led to the dismissal of the former Vice-Chancellor Prof Avoke and 19 other staff of the university, are investigated.

Speaking at Winneba, Central Region, on Tuesday, 31 December 2019, to mark the 38th-anniversary of the 1981 coup, Mr Rawlings said “it will be unfair to conclude without touching on the case relating to social injustice and violation of the rights” of Prof Avoke and the 19 others by the Abeka-led Council. 

“First of all”, he said, “I commend the government for their prompt intervention by laying a roadmap for the peaceful resolution of the matter after I expressed my initial concerns”, adding: “From the records of EOCO and other state agencies, the affected individuals were exonerated as there was no evidence of misconduct established against them”.

“Ironically”, Mr Rawlings noted, “The current Vice-Chancellor, who was indicted in the same report, still remains at post”.

“Notwithstanding the effort of government toward immediate resolution, no significant progress has been made after more than three months. More than 20 dismissed staff at the UEW are going through discontent and pain.  I hope this important matter is given the urgency and attention that is required.

“I understand there are investigations ongoing regarding the current Vice-Chancellor. It will be appropriate for the Council to request that he steps aside for fairness to prevail as has been the practice with other similar circumstances in the past”.

In October this year, Mr Rawlings wrote to the Minister of National Security, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, demanding justice for Prof Mawutor Avoke as far as his ousting from office is concerned following his exoneration by EOCO of alleged procurement and management breaches.

The allegations were filed at EOCO against Prof Avoke and a few principal officers of UEW by Effutu MP Alexander Afenyo-Markin in May 2017 in connection with the award of contracts to Sparkx Ghana Limited for five district projects. But EOCO said there was no breach of the Public Procurement Act in the award of the contracts.

Apart from that, EOCO cleared Prof Avoke of any wrongdoing in the award of a contract to Paa Badu Construction Limited to put up a 2000-bed hostel, another to C-Deck Limited for clinic extension works at Winneba, as well as the construction of a basic school at Kumasi.

Mr Afenyo-Markin had claimed due process was not followed in the award of all the contracts but EOCO found otherwise.

Despite EOCO’s exoneration of Prof Avoke, he still has not been reinstated, thus, resorted to Mr Rawlings for his intervention.

In Mr Rawlings’ letter to Mr Kan-Dapaah, the former President said: “Unfortunately, during the pendency of the investigations, the affected persons were dismissed from the university by the previous Council”.

“The action”, he noted, “has created a complex situation, leaving the exonerated Prof Avoke and his colleagues still out of work”.

“Honourable Minister, there is a clear case of injustice and the continued non-resolution of this matter is justice denied and untenable.

“As per the Professor’s request, I will be grateful if you can look into the merits of the latest developments and take the necessary steps in consultation with the relevant stakeholders that will be satisfactory, justifiable and equitable in the eye of the law.

“I count on your kind assistance and cooperation,” Mr Rawlings’ letter read.

Read Mr Rawlings’ full speech below: 

ADDRESS BY H.E. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS AT A DURBAR TO CLIMAX THE 38TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE 31ST DECEMBER REVOLUTION

WINNEBA – TUESDAY, 31ST DECEMBER 2019

Nananom,

Distinguished guests,

Cadres,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first express my gratitude to the chiefs and people of Winneba for hosting us here today and to welcome all who have come from far and near to celebrate with us.

Many have today forgotten the circumstances that gave birth to June 4, 1979 and 31st December 1981 and some have deliberately spent huge resources sponsoring a distortion of history based on outright lies, half-truths and the rendition by cowards who run away during those heady days.

Some may not want to speak openly about the truth, but there are millions alive who cannot forget the dire circumstances that this country found itself 40 years ago when the atmosphere was so fragile and volatile.

An important lesson in history is going to be lost on this nation because a handful of warped minds, full of hate and bitterness are being paid to distort and cover up events in our history with callous stories and lies. Why do we sit and allow these perfidious characters to get away with these lies and deceitful machinations through the power of the media, all to the detriment of the nation?

In 1979, Ghanaians had suffered years of abuse and corruption and sought natural justice to punish some of those who were responsible for the humiliating circumstances they suffered.

Ladies and gentlemen, it will shock you to know that during the Acheampong regime, the banking sector, especially the Ghana Commercial Bank, was plunged into unimaginable corruption. The bank served as an avenue for cronies and a particular ethnic group to feed fat on loans without collateral. Sadly, these loans were never paid.

Some private entrepreneurs like the ones Adongo Okyere alludes to in his misleading narration, used to go for soft loans, build fancy residences, rent them out to expatriates and ironically pay the proceeds into their foreign bank accounts. A two-man committee established then to look into the fraudulent activities of the bank had their activities come to an abrupt end when one of the members was killed and burnt under mysterious circumstances. How bad could the situation have been to warrant such a heinous and atrocious crime in an attempt to conceal their misconduct? These and many more wicked and morally disgusting actions were common place.

It is, however, unfortunate that some have chosen to siphon the negatives, leaving out the overwhelming gains made by these interventions of the people. The two interventions, 1979 and 1981, were not about Rawlings. They were the effects of the mood of the country and the mood of the people. In telling the story, the context and the circumstances cannot be discounted or overlooked.

An explosion of human rage in our history, meant to teach us not to treat fellow human beings with disrespect, is being distorted by persons who lack credibility.

How can we decline to the extent of losing our morality and sense of discernment in even appreciating and identifying people of value and integrity? 

Recently at a funeral service in the Volta Region, I went down on my knee out of respect to Togbega Addo VIII, Paramount Chief of Klikor, to seek permission to depart the ceremony ahead of time. Many were those who wondered who he was and why I had to kneel before him.

We no longer show enough respect to our traditional leaders who are the custodians of the soul and spirit of our nation. Amongst these traditional leaders are some of the most disciplined, clean, just and most revered personalities. We have to wake up to our responsibilities as a people and give due respect to all deserving people and not only to people of high social class and some whose claim to respect is due to their wealth or elected office.

In the coming weeks, I will engage the nation and take us through our socio-political trajectory and unravel key historical antecedents that have shaped us as a people.

Ladies and gentlemen, I intend to be brief but it will be unfair to conclude without touching on the case relating to social injustice and violation of the rights of some University of Education, Winneba staff by the Abeka-led council. 

First of all, I commend the government for their prompt intervention by laying a roadmap for the peaceful resolution of the matter after I expressed my initial concerns. From the records of EOCO and other state agencies, the affected individuals were exonerated as there was no evidence of misconduct established against them. Ironically, the current Vice-Chancellor, who was indicted in the same report, still remains at post.

Notwithstanding the effort of government toward immediate resolution, no significant progress has been made after more than three months. More than 20 dismissed staff at the UEW are going through discontent and pain.  I hope this important matter is given the urgency and attention that is required.

I understand there are investigations ongoing regarding the current Vice-Chancellor. It will be appropriate for the Council to request that he steps aside for fairness to prevail as has been the practice with other similar circumstances in the past.

We should not allow the distortions of our history to continue. Everyone here who claims to be an adherent of the decade that stopped the socio-political decay in our country must recognise the calculated efforts to destroy the legacy that we all laid. Those who have allowed corruption to rear its ugly head, and permitted it to fester, want to belittle the discipline, the law and order we introduced into this country, so they can justify their corrupt tendencies.

The lighting of the perpetual flame and the laying of wreaths is to show reverence to all who sacrificed their lives during that difficult time in our country. Let no one downplay those sacrifices through historical distortions, twists and utter fabrications. We will face those cowards firmly. Let’s remain strong and resolute and not allow anyone to tell our story for us. We will tell our story!

I thank you all for coming. Drive safely! I wish you a Prosperous New Year and may God bless us all.

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