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Re: The pen at risk – Myjoyonline

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Dear Prof. Kwesi Yankah,
I have stumbled on page 157 of your book “THE PEN AT RISK”.
This page generally talks about some of the challenges your administration encountered with students of Commonwealth Hall. And the measures that were employed to address them when you were the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, in the year 2007.
I note, with special interest, two issues.
Sir, what happened to the final-year student who was remanded in police custody in relation to this important evidence?
You should have mentioned that the said computer belonged to Benjamin Akyena Brantuo who was in his final year and was the immediate past legitimately elected leader of the over four thousand Students who were admitted as residents of Commonwealth Hall.
To put issues in context, you could also have offered your readers the information that after the University and the State of Ghana had summoned the High Court to sit on its purported evidence against Mr. Brantuo, it failed to show up in court with the so-called evidence for one year. Until the court was compelled to discontinue the case on grounds of want of prosecution.
You should have indicated that before Brantuo was discharged by the court, he was reporting himself to the police twice a week for one year. This was after he had been remanded in police custody for 16 days because the police and their complices in the University had alleged that he was a national security threat and that they needed more time for him to be with the police to gather evidence for prosecution. The computer is still with the police as of this morning 20th October 2023, 16 years on.
What you did not also mention in your book was that, while Mr Brantuo was detained at the CID headquarters his colleagues were writing exams and he was released from custody the very day the examinations were over.
I also feel you should have mentioned that it was Benjamin who voluntarily presented himself to the police after you released his biodata to the police and they gave it to the Ghanaian Times to publish his pictures as a wanted man on its front page. He had at no point declined police invitation.
The broadcast of Akyena’s image in the Times as a wanted man had been accompanied by a write-up that said that it was a court that issued a Bench warrant for his arrest. All of these turned out to be false. He became aware that his computer had been taken away and that there was a massive resistance between the students of the hall and the men took the computer only when he had returned from an interview with Joy 99.7fm.
A day later, he walked to the police station when he became aware of the news.
He would honour the police visit, only to be told he cannot return to school because there is an order from above to have him detained. This detention lasted for 16 days until the university ran out of excuses to prolong it further. Given the massive public interest in the story and the several lawyers who volunteered their services to halt the abuse of his rights, the university had no choice but to agree to bail. I am forever grateful to my lawyer, Kwaku Mortey, the Executive Director of EOCO who represented me for years without charge.
You also left a very important point out of your commentary, that despite the court discharging me for want of prosecution, the university held on to my certificates for ten more years insisting that despite the court verdict, the university has not cleared me.
You even went as far as making a permanent mark on my transcript that said “The student is under investigation”. So that even if somebody was willing to employ me without my certificate, you were going further discourage them because upon seeing my transcript they would assume I am a criminal. For those ten years, I could not assess further education and other opportunities. I watched with helplessness as my colleagues and juniors went ahead to become lawyers, Doctors, and professors. You even went ahead to become Minister of Tertiary Education.
What you also left out of your narration was that long before the university came up with this allegation of threats against senior members of the university which enabled them to strangulate student activities and critical scrutiny of the leadership of university managers using the police and national security, you had sacked me from my residence as a student leader, barred me from representing students of my hall on university statutory bodies, taken my signatory from student accounts, refused to deal with me on all matters relating to students interest of my hall and done everything to ensure that I was impeached even though this failed.
Sir, in all these, you should have mentioned what my crime was. It was that as an elected student leader I failed to prioritize the interest of the management of the university against the interest of the students who voted for me.
May the records reflect that I don’t regret offering myself to be elected as the President of Commonwealth Hall. Student leadership is not a crime. When my son is old I want him to be proud that his father was denied his certificates for 10 years for fighting for the rights of students.
If there are regrets, it is only to the effects that leaders like you who had all the space to oppose even military regimes, like that of Rawlings, which you so eloquently beat your chest over, would go down as the architects who destroyed student activism.
Your legacy includes arbitrarily removing student leaders critical of your leadership from office and installing your puppets, prohibiting something as fundamental a right as student assembly and meetings, and criminalizing student protests. You killed student activism. It is the reason the youth in our country can’t think outside the box and offer alternatives to the dominant views or what officials present them.
You titled your book “THE PEN AT RISK” yet you send terror squads in the police and national security to come after student leaders who demand academic freedom, good drinking water, decent accommodation, and a halt to academic malpractice with official involvement. Read over your own notes which admit to worse crimes and corrupt practices by university officials, a situation that was even given a darker view by the International Panel, led by Sir John Danniels that audited the university and recommended the removal of the Financial Director and placed a cap on tenures by certain officials who had been in power forever.
I would have hoped that your autobiography, which is perhaps the final reflection of your life would have made room to admit some imperfections in how you handled yourself about the matters raised above.
I have not raised these issues until now because I have found a place in my heart to forgive you. I bought your book without knowing you had discussed me in it. It was with the hope that I could learn from you despite your treatment of me.
I have reluctantly made these few comments so that those who read what you have here may have the benefit of my side, just in case they don’t live to read my book, where fuller details of these issues have been discussed and in their proper context.
I pray nobody will use their position and authority to abuse any of your family members like you did to me just because they expressed views that were different from those who had the power to solve the problems.
Yours Sincerely,
Benjamin Akyena Brantuo
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