Professor Augustine Nwagbara on Thursday said his dismissal from University of Education Winneba, Ghana was unethical and should be reversed in the interest of the University.
The professor said this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman of Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri -Erewa in Abuja
The University of Education Winneba in Ghana had terminated the appointment of the visiting Nigerian professor of English, who was allegedly seen urging Nigerians, in a video that had gone viral, to stand up against Ghanaians for unfair treatment and for the poor quality of universities in Ghana.
Nwagbara said he his dismissal was wrong because he was on sabbatical to the institution and not a staff.He said that on that score, his sabbatical engagement at the university could not be terminated.
“Its quite relieving to be home; I had a very traumatic 10-day stay in Ghana; I was living alone in Ghana and only few Nigerians had the courage to come to me because it was going to be very bad for them to associate with me; their safety was at stake.
“At that period I was not only afraid of Ghanaians but there was the media doing massive promotion.“That video was discussed cumulatively everyday for hours on the media and none of the media asked for my side of the story.
“The intelligence agencies and the police came several times to the university and there was this tense period until the Nigerian High Commissioner stepped into the matter.
“At some point the High Commissioner took me to the police, when we got there, we thought our interaction with them was going to be for a few minutes, but we spent six hours with them.
“When I got home my landlord was worried; he told me that my arrest was in the news.
“The next day the university set up a panel to look into the matter and on my way to the panel I heard news over the radio in my car at 3.00pm that I was sacked.
“If a panel is set up to probe a professor, it should be made up of people not below the position of a professor and if e or she is found guilty he or she goes to a second panel and then to the University council.
“The process can take up to two months, but my own case happened in less than 15 minutes.
“When I got home, a colleague of mine, who was at a conference in Malaysia sent me a press statement on my dismissal through WhatsApp.
“I noticed the press release stated that I was no longer a responsibility of the university.
“The video that went viral on the internet was not a press conference; what happened in the video happened at an open air gathering of about 30 Nigerians in Winneba, in the central region next to Accra.
“Nigerians in the community came together to deliberate on the deportation of Nigerians in Kasuwa, which was a major point for deportation.
“I was at the gathering with six professionals also on sabbatical because we heard our High Commissioner was coming.
“We were not members of the association,” he said.Nwagbara said that he got some computer experts from the University of Lagos, who tracked the viral video and discovered that it was a Ghanaian journalist, who had been consistently promoting Xenophobia that posted the video.
“The journalist excluded context from the video because the video was actually supposed to show a meeting with people making contributions; instead the video was doctored and stitched,” he said.
He said that the involvement of the Nigerian High Commissioner helped matters and that the story would have been different without his intervention.“I have still not received the termination letter directly, but it is online in two versions. one is a media release by the University, the second is a personal letter written to me. One was not signed, the other was signed by the University registrar.
“They have my email but I did not receive any mail. I only heard that my dismissal was pasted all over the country, ” he said.
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of NiDCOM appreciated Nwagbara and welcomed him back to Nigeria.She invited him to use some space at the Commission to share his intellectual wealth of knowledge and experience.
“At this point in time we need to work as Africans to promote unity in the continent.
“From official information, between January and now about 509 Nigerians have been deported from Ghana, 527 Nigerians were also deported within six months in 2018.
“If Nigerians were to do the same here in Nigeria to Ghanaians it would not augur well for the continent.
“We encourage dialogue and we will not tolerate treating our people anyhow.“If a Nigerian commits a crime, that person should be held accountable. All other Nigerians should not be held accountable for one person’s misconduct.
“All the deportees could not have been criminals.“We will engage the Ghanaian authorities and we will work together for the development of Africa.
“We should not discriminate against one another; we will demand decent treatment of our brothers and sisters wherever they are.
“We have taken this up with the Ghanaian authorities and received cooperation from them.”