The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, UNILAG branch says it received with anguish, the reports of harassment, intimidation and detention of a Nigerian Professor, Austin Nwagbara, who is currently on sabbatical at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana.
Prof Nwagbara was dismissed based on a leaked video of a meeting addressed by him.
In a letter dated 19th June, 2019 and signed by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Anthony Afful-Broni, states that the Special Committee set up to investigate a video circulating on the social media established the following:
“Your uncomplimentary comments were not expected from a University Professor.2. By your comments, you had shown gross disrespect to the Government of Ghana, the Security Agencies in Ghana and downgraded the Ghanian Educational system in general and Tertiary Education in the country in particular.3. You grossly misconducted yourself in the video your actions have brought the name of the University into disrepute.
“I therefore, write on behalf of the Council of the University of Education, Winneba to summarily dismiss you from the employ of the University with immediate effect.”
But, in a statement on Thursday, Dr. Dele Ashiru, ASUU, Unilag branch faulted the decision of the University Council saying it runs contrary to academic freedom guaranteed by the Kampala Declaration.
Ashiru says “It is the opinion of our Union that no matter how scathing the views of Professor Nwagbara may be to the authorities of the University at Winneba, the Government and people of Ghana, the fact remains that Professor Nwagbara’s views should be viewed within the context of academic freedom guaranteed by Article 3 and 4 of the Kampala Declaration on Intellectual Freedom and Social Responsibility which states that…No African intellectual shall in any way be persecuted, harassed or intimidated for reasons only of his or her intellectual work, opinions, gender, nationality or ethnicity.
“Every African intellectual shall enjoy the freedom of movement within his or her country and freedom to travel outside and re-enter the country without let, hindrance or harassment. No administrative or any other action shall directly or indirectly restrict this freedom on account of a person’s intellectual opinions, beliefs or activity.”
Ashiru added, “in the light of the above, our Union condemns in absolute terms the unwarranted harassment, intimidation and illegal detention of the erudite Professor.
“Our Union calls on the authorities of the University of Education Winneba, relevant government agencies and people of Ghana to ensure the safety of Professor Nwagbara’s life and property.
“They should take notice that should anything untoward happen to Professor Nwagbara, the authorities of the University of Winneba and the government of Ghana would be held squarely responsible with its reciprocal consequences for Nigeria-Ghana relations and the Ghanaian community in Nigeria.”