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Prof Atuguba threatens to lead impeachment against UTAG over Public University Bill

An Associate Professor and Dean at the University of Ghana School of Law, has asked his colleague lecturers to reject the Public Universities Bill.

Professor Raymond Atuguba said the Bill is unconstitutional and poses a threat to the existence of public universities.

“I have had the privilege of drafting or assisting to draft over 300 policies and laws on the African continent in the last two decades, and I can confirm that the PUB is one of the worst laws I have ever encountered.

“It is glaringly and patently unconstitutional (so no Parliament or MP has any business passing it into law),” he said in an address to members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG).

In a statement, Prof Atuguba said information available to him suggests that the bill could be passed into law in the next 24 to 72 hours.

He has further threatened to lead an impeachment against UTAG over the bill.

“Unless UTAG (local and national) are able to work through the night today [Thursday, December 16, 2020], to provide a ROADMAP by tomorrow morning, establishing a clear pathway for stopping the passage of the PUB, I will be in the lead to ensure their impeachment and more,” he said.

“We really need to thank all those putting in hours to ensure that the PUB is not passed in the state in which it is,” he added.

This follows the re-laying of the Bill in parliament after concerns have been raised by UTAG on the unconstitutionality of the Bill and its attendant negative effect on public tertiary education in Ghana.

Prof Atuguba stated that the bill “seeks to politicise the Public Universities, establish Executive and Ministerial micro-management of public universities, and it is very badly drafted in several areas” as well.

“From the first Clause of the Bill to the last Clause, there is almost nothing good about it. Literally all the clauses contain fundamental policy and legal challenges and faux pas that no democracy, no Parliament, worth its salt, and no Ghanaian should countenance.

Among other things, the lawyer condemned the Bill for investing so much power into individuals, rather than institutions.

“Clause 1 of the Bill moves the power to establish a Public University from 275 Members of Parliament, representing 35 million Ghanaians, and vests that power in one man-the Minister for Education.

“What madness is that? It is true that the power is exercised by Legislative Instrument (L.I.), but we all know that L.I.s are not subjected to as much scrutiny by Parliament; hardly receive public input; cannot be amended by Parliament; require two-thirds majority of Parliament to be annulled-a majority that Parliament is hardly able to garner; and can so easily be silently stolen through Parliament and become Law. This is what Clause 1 does,” he said.

“In the same vein, the Minister, by L.I., can kill a University, by simply deleting it from the First Schedule,” he added.

“…finally, there are some things hidden in the First Schedule to the Bill. This Schedule provides for the mandate of each public university, in a very restrictive manner. Under that Schedule, if you are able to forgive the incorrect turn of phrase in the language they use, GIMPA, for example, would have to close down their Law Faculty,” he further noted.

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