EOCO summons him, University Council interdicts him
What is seen as a crusade by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to hound the Vice Chancellor of the University of Education, Winneba, Prof. Mawutor Avokeh, out of office, shifted gear on the 31st of October.
The Vice Chancellor was concurrently invited by the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) over alleged procurement malfeasance at the University and interdicted by the University’s governing Council on the same day.
Two separate letters from EOCO and the University Council, both dated the 31st of October, communicated the double whammy to Prof. Avoke.
“This office is investigating alleged Procurement Malpractices at the University of Education, Winneba.
“In view of this, you are kindly requested to meet the Ag. Executive Director of Economic and Organized Crimes Office or his representative at its Head Office on the Barnes Road Accra adjacent the Old Parliament House on Thursday, 2nd November, 2017 at 11:00 am.”
The letter had been signed by Nana Antwi, Deputy Executive Director (Operations) of the EOCO and copied to the UEW University Council.
Amazingly, on that very 31st October that EOCO’s letter to Prof. Avokeh had been copied to the UEW Council, the same Council had also written to Prof. Avoke asking him to step aside as VC over allegation that some documents that were vital to EOCO’s investigation into the University’s administration had gone missing.
According to the letter the said documents had been lost through nocturnal theft.
“Following alleged financial and procurement irregularities, among other things, leveled against the University by one Mr. Supi Kofi Kwayera at the Winneba High Court, the Governing Council of the University, at its meeting on 5th September, 2017, set up a Fact Finding Committee to go into the matter to establish the facts in an attempt to abreast itself with information relating to the issues and also to prepare for its defense against any eventualities. Besides, the EOCO and the BNI are also conducting investigations into the matter.
“While the above-mentioned investigations are in progress, the Council has been informed of alleged removal of vital documents from files at some offices that are at the center of the investigations at dead night. Thus, at its meeting held 31st October, 2017, to discuss the interim report of the Fact-finding Committee, the Governing Council decided that to enable the Committee, EOCO and BNI to do a thorough work without being impeded, undermined, compromised, and or shipwrecked, with immediate effect, you and the following officers should step aside while investigations are ongoing.”
The letter had been signed by Prof. Emmanuel N. Abakah, Chairman of the UEW’s Governing Council.
It listed the other people affected by the directive to step aside as Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie, Finance Officer, Mr. Frank Owusu Boateng, Deputy Finance Officer, Ms. Sena Dake, Internal Auditor, Ms. Mary Dzimey, Acting Head of Procurement and Ing. Daniel Tetteh, Acting Deputy Director of Works and Physical Development.
The investigation of Prof. Mawutor Avoke and other staff over alleged corruption and implied obstruction of justice through tamper with evidence represents a shift from the original issues that had been raised with his administration as Vice Chancellor.
In May this year, one Supi Kofi Kwayera, represented by the NPP’s MP for Efutu, Alexander Afenyo Markins, had sued the UEW over the legitimacy of its governing Council.
Afenyo Markins, who is believed to be nursing a desire to have Prof. Avoke removed so that he can replace him with a pro NPP person had adduced in a 23rd May write on behalf of Mr. Kwayera that the UEW council’s mandate had expired in November 2013.
According to him, upon the expiration of that mandate, the Education Ministry ought to have constituted a new Governing Council but did not, rather allowing a defunct Governing Council to continue to function.
This, the plaintiff insisted, was unlawful hence his legal action against the UEW.
However, before the substantive claims were looked into, the University, through its counsel, had applied to the court to dismiss the suit on three counts, but the application had been dismissed.
The University’s branch of the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG) as a respondent subsequently applied to join the application.
In June this year, the plaintiff had prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining the University from authorizing any payment to any contractor or supplier whose contract is the subject matter to the case against the Council.
Again, the injunction was to restrain the recognition of any supposed Principal Officer or any person whose mandate as an officer of the UEW emanated from the “defunct” Governing Council as the lawful representative(s) of the UEW until the final determination of the substantive application.
The injunction also sought to restrain the UEW and its lawful representatives from making any payment to Ghana Highway Authority or any third party entity including Larmas Construction (GH) Ltd in respect of a Memorandum of Understanding with Ghana Highway Authority for road maintenance until the final determination of the substantive application.
In July this year, the High Court in Winneba ordered Professor Mawutor Avokeh, to step aside until a case brought against the University Council is determined. The decision automatically put Prof. Afful Broni in Acting position.
Interestingly, Prof. Broni, who is the Acting VC, was a few months ago revealed to have taken a per diem of $24,000 over a trip to China in 2016.
It is not clear if EOCO and the BNI have any intent to investigate that.