Dr. Bekoe’s Dream Of Reinstatement Shot Down

The Cape Coast High Court 2 at its sitting, yesterday, 25th June, 2019 ruled on a certiorari application brought before it by Ex-parte Dr. Samuel Ofori Bekoe against the University of Education, Winneba challenging among other things his unlawful dismissal.

Reading the ruling before a packed court, her ladyship, Justice Mills Tetteh held that the University of Education, Winneba did not err nor breach the rules of natural justice in dismissing Dr. Samuel Ofori Bekoe.

In a ruling that lasted an hour or so, her ladyship advanced that the position of the applicant that his conduct which was the subject of investigation for which he was being invited was already before a Winneba Magistrate Court and therefore he could not attend upon the investigative committee was flawed.

She maintained that where there is alternative resolution, the court relies on it. Therefore, the administrative processes used by UEW could run parallel to the ongoing judicial processes bearing in mind that the University had to run. She noted that there must be a fine balance struck between the right of the individual against public interest.

It would be recalled that at a Council meeting in February, 2018, Dr. Samuel Ofori Bekoe, then a Convocation Representative on UEW Council was alleged to have issued death threats to some Council members. This consequently led to a complaint being lodged at Winneba Municipal Police Station which also ended at the Winneba Migistrate Court and an administrative process triggered. An Investigative Committee was constituted through the University’s internal disciplinary processes to look into the issues.

The judge in her ruling also settled the issue on the capacity and locus of the Vice-Chanellor and the Chairman of the Governing Council to discipline the affected person. She held that the aforementioned officers had the mandate and acted within the remit of the law. She quoted copiously from the University statutes and cited other rulings to buttress her own ruling. The Vice-Chancellor per the University’s statutes is the chief disciplinary officer of the University and therefore has the mandate to discipline any senior member in accordance with the the statutes, she pointed out.

Her Ladyship Justice Mills Tetteh posited that there is no evidence to the argument by the applicant that he was not given the opportunity to be heard. Her Ladyship drew evidence from the face of the records to demonstrated that several opportunities were extended to applicant to appear before the investigative committee and the disciplinary board but same treated the invitations extended to him with contempt and open defiance. The argument therefore, that the applicant was not given any hearing is untenable. She held that the applicant could not disable himself and turn round to complain that he was not given any hearing. The court accordingly dismissed his application.

In a related development the same court heard another certiorari application filed by Ex-parte Dr Kaakyire Duku, Prof Mawutor Avoke, Dr Theophilus Ackorlie, Frank Owusu Boateng, Mary Dzimey,and Ing Daniel Tetteh as 1st to 6th applicants against the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) as 1st respondent and Supi Kofi Kwayera as 2nd respondent in an application challenging the dismissal of 2nd to 6th applicants.

Counsel for the applicants Harold Atuguba argued that his clients were interdicted without due process citing their being asked to step aside, denying them of their allowances and privileges accorded their offices and their eventual dismissal from office. He also cited a purported Economics and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) report which has exonerated his clients of financial malfeasance and procurement breaches.

The court gave Counsel for the 2nd respondent, Alex Afenyo Markin the opportunity to make his submission as a joinder to the case. Alex Afenyo Markin had a torrid time at court convincing the court where he wished to align in the case. Eventually he decided to partly align with the Applicants and also stated that he would also on his own make independent arguments. He relied on affidavits sworn by the applicants.

His line of argument was solely on a purported Economics and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) and Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) reports. He canvassed strongly that EOCO and BNI had the legal backing and capacity to investigate matters which of criminal nature better than the Governing Council’s fact finding committee.. He on that basis urged the court to dismiss the arguments by the 1st respondent and reinstate all affected staff unconditionally.

There were heated exchanges between 2nd and 1st respondents legal counsels Alex Afenyo Markin and Paa Kwesi Abaidoo on why the 2nd respondent’s counsel is now siding with the Applicants since he previously held brief as Counsel for the 1st respondent.

Paa Kwasi Abaidoo advised Afenyo Markin on the implications of his action should anyone haul him before the general legal council.

On his part counsel for 1st respondent, Paa Kwasi Abaidoo described Dr Kaakyire Frimpong Duku as a busy body who could not establish his interest in the case since he was not an affected party to the case.

Counsel, Paa Kwesi Abaidoo also pointed out the procedural error in the certiorari application filed. He described attempts by counsel for applicants and 2nd respondent to impugn that the five dismissed staff were interdicted base on the EOCO and BNI report as false since there was no evidence on the face of the record to show that UEW lodged any complaint with the aforementioned institutions.

He maintained that the dismissed staff were interdicted solely on the Fact Finding Committee’s Report. He gave 14 very solid points to highlight why the certiorari application should be dismissed with punitive cost.

Counsel Abaidoo proved with evidence, a series of letters written to invite the five dismissed staff to appear before a disciplinary board which they defiantly refused to heed. Their refusal to honour the invitation was premised on the flimsy excuse that the matter was already before a court of competent jurisdiction for determination.

The arguments from the three legal counsels brought proceedings spanning 4 hours to a close.

In court yesterday for the first time were Prof Mawutor Avoke and Dr Theophilus Ackorlie with some former staff and well wishers. The case has been adjourned for Tuesday 30th July, 2019 for the ruling.

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