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As University Court terminates Prof. Abdullah’s contract…

FBC Alumni exec to meet Chancellor

July 18, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

The long drawn out fracas between the University of Sierra Leone and Professor Ibrahim Abdullah reached a sudden and unexpected episode last week after it emerged that the University Court has terminated the appointment of the respected academic.

Our sources say the Court of the University of Sierra Leone reached the controversial decision at their regular meeting on Wednesday, 13 July, 2016. Apparently the Court took the decision after it concluded that “claims of persistent reports of insubordination, acts of indiscipline, negative attitude to work, lack of participation in the affairs of the Department of History and African Studies, refusal to teach assigned courses and breaches of the employment contract and Code of Discipline for senior members of staff against Dr. Ibrahim Abdullah” were true.

The Court’s report disclosed that it looked into a report by a committee that had been set-up to investigate allegations of improper conduct against Professor Abdullah, which alleged that his attitude towards colleagues was unprofessional, failure to teach courses assigned to him, disrespect for the authority of the Head of Department, verbally abusing students, breach of the Code of Discipline for senior members of staff, among other findings.

The report also disclosed that the committee had recommended that the renewal of Dr. Abdullah’s appointment should be delayed for a period of six months, although he was subsequently given a one year contract.

“Based on the recommendation that Prof. Abdullah’s renewal should be withheld for a period of six months, the Registrar of the University offered him a one-year appointment. Dr. Abdullah wrote an insulting letter in response to this appointment to the Registrar of the University of Sierra Leone,” the report disclosed.

However, there is no evidence that the Court summoned Professor Abdullah to testify or indeed any of the students that he is alleged to have verbally abused.

The decision has irked many within and outside Sierra Leone, not least the Fourah Bay College (FBC) Alumni Association. 

During an emergency meeting held at the Mary Kinsley Auditorium, Fourah Bay College campus last Saturday, the FBC Alumni President, Umaru Fofana, said he summoned the meeting in order that members could intervene and help broker an amicable resolution.

“We should not sit down quietly to see a University Professor who is very relevant to teaching and research being sacked like that. We don’t have enough professors at Fourah Bay College, so we should not be losing them. That does not mean that the professors should misbehave because they are limited,” he said.

The meeting disclosed that Professor Abdullah was not at the sitting of the University Court during his trial. It was also discovered that only the findings of a committee of investigators was presented to the University Court, which formed the basis of its decision.

The Alumni members unanimously agreed that Professor Abdullah should have been invited by the University Court to testify, instead of the latter relying solely on findings of the committee of investigators.

Also, members noted that the complainant, Dr. Spencer, was part of the committee that was set-up to investigate Prof. Abdullah and that his inclusion as a committee member was against the principles of natural justice.

“We are not fighting or supporting Prof. Abdullah here. We are supporting due process. Prof. Abdullah was a tenure staff and he should not have been reduced to mere contract staff. In fact, the Court of the University of Sierra Leone has not met since 2013 and it only met to terminate Prof. Abdullah from the college,” the members unanimously noted.

They added that the tenure of service of all the members that took the decision at the Court to expel Professor Abdullah from the university had expired.

According to Lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, a member of the Association, Professor Abdullah told him that he had been offered a new module to teach at the beginning of the academic year and that he did to refuse to teach it, but rather requested more time from the Head of Department to enable him read and research more journals about the module as part of preparation to teach.

The Alumni members recommended that they would have to first engage the University administration in order to express their concern about the failure of the University Court to meet ‘due process’, which include calling Professor Abdullah during the trial, the acceptance of the complainant being part of the committee of investigators, among other issues. They also took a unanimous decision to meet with the Chancellor of the University, President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is himself an alumnus of the college.

Meanwhile, when contacted for his reaction Professor Abdullah replied: “go talk to them, thanks.”

Registrar of the University of Sierra Leone, Sorie N. Dumbuya, could not be reach for comment.

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