The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has said the University of Ghana decided to make public its sanctions against two of its lecturers caught in the BBC’s sex for grades documentary so as “to divert public attention from the serious damages of the government-sponsored galamsey that has destroyed our water bodies.”
The school has suspended Prof Ransford Gyampo and Dr Paul Butakor for six and four months, respectively.
In a statement released and signed by its Executive Director, Mensah Thompson, on Tuesday, 18 February 2020, the group said the university, “even after communicating their decision to the respondents about three weeks ago, failed to publish the outcome of the investigations until such a time that the issue of galamsey has become contentious in the country and is seeking to divert public attention from the serious damages of the government-sponsored galamsey that has destroyed our water bodies (knowingly or unknowingly).”
It added: “The communiqué issued by the university lacks clarity on the subject matter and failed to address the core allegations made against the two respondents satisfactorily”, adding: “The university failed to make a pronouncement on the subject of the exposé and the hearing which was: ‘Allegations of Sex for Grades’ and the university only found these two lecturers guilty only on misconduct contrary to Regulation 15 of the University’s Code of Conduct.”
The statement continued: “The preferred punishment for breaching such regulations, ordinarily does not include withdrawing of the employees’ basic salary or undergoing positive assessment training or annual assessment before resumption of duty; the university failed to take into account the four-month period for which the respondents have remained interdicted contrary to the sentencing regime in our Justice delivery system (When an accused person is convicted, the serving of his sentence takes into consideration the period which he had been arrested, detained or remanded in custody until the time the matter was fully decided).”
In ASEPA’s view, the six- and four-month “suspension without pay is unlawful contrary to Section 69(2a) of the Labour Act of Ghana, Act 651, which states that: ‘An employer shall (a) not impose a pecuniary fine on an employee for any reason whatsoever’.”
ASEPA further noted that: “The investigation and subsequent hearing of the case between the University and Professor Gyampo and Dr Butakor did not meet the standard of local and international arbitration and was bedevilled with fundamental violations of the principles of natural justice because the principal witness in the matter failed to appear before the committee for evidential hearing and cross-examination”.
As far as ASEPA is concerned, the committee “erred in recommending the ultimate sanctions for the respondents even in the midst of these fundamental breaches”.
It said “the sanctions were too harsh, inconsiderate and smells of political meddling and interference”, noting that “there seem to be a clear attempt to gag these respondents and to court fear among the academic community, especially going into the 2020 elections, especially in the case of Prof Ransford Gyampo, who has been very outspoken and known to be very critical of the government.”
The group recommended that the university take the necessary action “to remedy the negative impressions created in the public domain that can ultimately affect the image and reputation of the university” by re-issuing “a communiqué stating clearly that the university did not find these lecturers guilty of sex for grades but misconduct contrary to the university statutes”.
ASEPA also wants the university “to allow the sanctions of the lecturers to take retrospective effect, starting from the day they were interdicted, restore the basic salaries of these lecturers throughout the remaining period of their sanctions and withdraw the positive assessment training and annual assessment for the two lecturers (which are usually meant for those found guilty of sex for grades) unless the university wants to provide further basis that, indeed, these lecturers were found culpable of the said allegations.”