The University of Lagos (UNILAG) chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has condemned the dismissal of Austin Nwagbara, a Nigerian professor, by the University of Education (UEW), Ghana.
Nwagbara was sacked by UEW over “unethical and damning” comments he made about the country and its education system.
The professor, in a viral video, had accused the Ghanaian government of maltreating Nigerians.
The professor had urged a group of people to employ the media from Nigeria to reshape the reportage of Nigerians based in Ghana.
Shortly after this, he was arrested by the Ghanaian police for allegedly inciting the public. He was later granted bail but asked to report to the police frequently.
In a statement on Friday, Dele Ashiru, chairman of ASUU-UNILAG, said the union received news of the alleged harassment and detention of Nwagbara with anguish.
Citing article 3 and 4 of the Kampala declaration on intellectual freedom and social responsibility, the union said the professor’s opinion should have been viewed within the context of academic freedom no matter how scathing they were.
The union called on the UEW and relevant government agencies to ensure the safety of Nwagbara, warning that they would be held responsible if anything untoward happens to the professor.
“Our union ASUU-UNILAG received with anguish, the reports of harassment, intimidation, and detention of one of our colleagues Professor Austin Nwagbara who is currently on sabbatical at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana, based on a leaked video of a meeting addressed by the erudite professor,” the statement read.
“It is the opinion of our union that no matter how scathing the vies of Professor Nwagbara may be to the authorities of the University at Winneba, the Government and the people of Ghana, the fact remains that Professor Nwagbara’s vies 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.’
“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 the people of Ghana to ensure the safety of Professor Nwagbara’s life and property.
“They should take notice that should anything untoward happens 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.”