By: Efo Korku Mawutor
Former Acting Dean of Students (DoS) of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), Mr. David Dankwa Apawu and his assistant, Likem Tsagli, are being accused by the General Assembly (GA) of the Students Representative Council (SRC) of illegally withdrawing GHC8,080.00 from the SRC accounts.
A circular released yesterday, 11th August 2021, titled “PROBE INTO INCONSISTENCIES IN SRC ACCOUNT” and singed by the Speaker of GA, Abdul-Lahie Abdul-Rahim Naa, details investigations being carried out be the law-making body of the SRC per recommendations from an audit committee to probe accounts of the previous student’s administration.
The communique references an invitation sent to the former SRC President, Joseph Agbezuke, popularly called Sir Joe, and former Financial Secretary, Joana Dagla, to answer questions regarding certain unapproved withdrawals made by persons who should not have access to the SRC accounts, and a subsequent response from Sir Joe, on Tuesday, 10th August 2021.
It is in their response to the rejoinder to the former SRC President, that the GA is revealing that the former Dean and his assistant, on different dates, withdrew varied amounts from the SRC coffers, for purposes unknown to anyone.
“The Audit report also found that the then Acting Dean of Students, Mr. David Dankwa Apawu, who Mr. Joseph Agbezuke wrongfully made a signatory to the SRC accounts withdrew GH₵4,200.00 from the SRC accounts on September 28, 2020, without approval or authorization from General Assembly. In fact, on November 8, 2020, one Tsagli Likem Lydia Abla, who is not supposed to have access to the SRC accounts, with cheque number 20534 also withdrew GH₵3,880.00 from the SRC accounts,” the release said.
Further probing into the bank statement of the GIJ SRC from 1st January 2019 to 22nd June 2021, as secured from Fidelity Bank, shows that the said withdrawals were indeed made.
In his rejoinder, the former SRC president denies any wrongdoing and insists that all records of his dealings during his tenure have been handed over to subsequent SRCs. He stated, further, that he made the DoS a signatory to the student’s account as a matter of accountability, though he agreed due process was disregarded in this attempt.
He said, “I value accountability so much for which reason in the absence of General Assembly during the outbreak of COVID-19, I added the Dean of Students as a signatory to the SRC Account. Although this decision of mine was inconsistent with the constitution, I could not leave the SRC account unchecked.”
Attempts to reach the former dean to speak to the matter have been unsuccessful, but trusted sources say that the dean had to make the GHC4,200.00 withdrawal to pay the salary of the SRC Bus driver who was owed in arrears of 6 six months.
Interestingly, in their final Financial Report, as presented to the GA then, Sir Joe and Joana Dagla stated under “Operational Expenses” that an amount of GH¢3,600.00 had been paid as salary to the bus driver at a unit rate of GHC600.00 for a period of six months.
But, in an exclusive interview with the bus driver, popularly known Mr. Adongo, he noted that he was owed close to eight months of salary by the SRC under Sir Joe.
“At that time, Sir Joe paid me some salary then he stopped paying me for a very long time. He didn’t pay for me almost 8 to 10 months. The receipts are there to prove this. He didn’t pay me until I took the matter to Mr. Apawu who said they would find some money and pay me. Even that one, I chased the money for more than a week before I got paid,” Adongo explained in Twi language.
On the other hand, assistant to the Mr. Apawu, Tsagli Likem Lydia Abla, says she preferred not to comment on the allegations raised against her and that she was seeking counsel on her next line of action.
She said, “I have taken note of the communique from GIJ General Assembly. I have contacted the right people for counsel and my actions will be seen when I take them.”
Meanwhile a source close to the former Dean’s office, name withheld for anonymity’s sake, reveals that Likem made the GHC3,880.00 withdrawal, as instructed by her boss, to fund the activities of the vetting committee put together by Sir Joe to vet and appoint SRC Executive in the latter part of 2020.
The source maintained that though the cheque was signed by the required number of signatories, none of them was available on the day for withdrawal, hence Likem had to effect same.
Chairman of the said Vetting Committee and former Deputy Speaker of GA, Earl Aggrey, confirms that he remembers a withdrawal being made for the committee because he presented a budget to the DoS to that effect.
“I know for a fact that money was withdrawn for the vetting committee. I cannot speak to the exact amounts. I gave out a budget of something over GHC2000 or so. It went into the TV production, refreshment, sitting allowance for committee members and other administrative costs,” he clarified.
A member of the Vetting Committee, Obed, however says that though he got a sitting allowance of GHc100, he does not remember any discussion on budget for the work of the committee.
He plainly said, “After the vetting, I was given 100ghc. I don’t know how much others got. There was no budget. We asked for a budget but he [Earl Aggrey] never gave us one.”
The General Assembly is writing a letter the to Management of GIJ, through the office of the current Dean of Students to initiate a probe into the alleged illegal withdrawals. It is expected that the former Dean and his Assistant would be called to answer to allegations, same as Sir Joe and Joana Dagla.
Speaker of GIJ GA however, insists that actions taken so far are not set to tarnish anybody’s image, rather, they are attempts to retrieve students’ funds spent by individuals illegally.
He said, “Our media release has been widely publicised and achieved what it sought to achieve, set the records straight. We are not on a witch hunt. We are simply looking for our money.”
“The letter to the Dean of Students to initiate a probe is also ready and will be submitted tomorrow In Sha Allah. A lot of different angles are popping up. It is clear our money is missing and we will find it, that we promise,” he ended.
-The writer, Efo Korku Mawutor, is a final year student of GIJ and an ardent student activist.