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How FBC sets ‘Kangaroo Committee’ to ‘investigate’ Prof. Ibrahim Abdullah

March 31, 2016

Documentary evidence in the matter between Prof. Ibrahim Abdullah and the Fourah Bay College administration has revealed how university administrators plotted to remove the revered academic from the university.

A 2015 report by a seven-member committee that was set-up by Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ekundayo Thompson, to ostensibly “investigate a case for the renewal of appointment” brought against Prof. Ibrahim Abdullah by the Fourah Bay College administration contains very shocking revelations.

“The contents of the report are very cold and contains slanderous testimonies against Prof. Ibrahim Abdullah by college administrators,” states a lecturer who prefers anonymity.

Prof. Abdullah had reportedly raised in a letter he addressed to the previous and succeeding heads of the Department of History and African Studies in November 2013 serious issues of professionalism involving some of the individuals who testified in the report.

In the report, Prof. Thompson, who constituted the committee, was recorded as one of its major witnesses in the case against Prof. Abdullah.

In his testimony, Prof. Thompson alleges that Prof. Abdullah lacks respect for his colleagues. “I encouraged him to have a change of attitude as regards his interpersonal relationship with his colleagues,” he is quoted in the report to have said, adding that he had personally called Dr. Abdullah in his office and admonished him accordingly.

But documentary evidence, however, suggests the contrary, as Prof Thompson’s testimony evaded the central aspect of the controversy, which is the issue of professionalism and academic standards raised by Prof. Abdullah in his 2013 letter to key university personnel.

Prof. Abdullah had complained that the Department of History and African Studies was challenged by severe issues of professionalism and that the department was ill-equipped and not up to the task of administering teaching standards.

“Standards have fallen to such an extent that students’ dissertations are not properly supervised by lecturers as most of them are plagiarised,” Prof. Abdullah had stated.

There is no documentary evidence of any response to Prof. Abdullah’s letter.

The committee’s ‘investigation’ also failed to include Prof. Abdullah’s 2013 letter, which is the genesis of the current controversy between him and the university administration.

The report clearly demonstrates the role played by Prof. Thompson, acting together with the University Register, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and the current head of the Department of History and African Studies, to orchestrate the removal of Prof. Abdullah from the university.

“The fact that the Vice Chancellor who initiated the investigation appears to be the first individual to testify against Prof. Abdullah sends serious questions about the fairness and neutrality of the committee’s findings,” another lecturer averred.

Some professors have also stated that the committee’s work subsumed Abdullah’s complaint and substituted it with allegations of how he refused to teach courses allocated to him by the current Head of Department, S. N. Spencer.

Spencer, in a letter dated 14 April, 2015 sent to the University Registrar on the matter, wrote that Prof. Abdullah’s “actions are based on some deep-seated psycho-social problem.”

“This has to be taken into consideration when final decision is being made about him,” he stated in his letter on why the department cannot recommend the “renewal” of Prof. Abdullah’s appointment.

Prof. Abdullah, however, insists that the issue is about professionalism and teaching standards, and has nothing to do with the manufactured allegations against him.

“How can you inaugurate a committee and then go there to testify against the person who is allegedly under investigation,” he asked, adding, “I wrote a letter in 2013 complaining about issues of professionalism. None of them acknowledged responding to the content of my letter and when I raised the issue again, they now turn around to illegally redefine my appointment,” he said.

A group of renowned academics from around the world have expressed concern at “his unjust treatment by the University”, and urged President Ernest Koroma, as Chancellor and Visitor to the University to intervene.

“It is our fervent hope that as Chancellor of, and Visitor to, the University, you will not support the unjust treatment of Dr. Abdullah. We call on you to use the authority vested in your office to ensure that the threat of termination of his employment is swiftly lifted, his salary reinstated, and his tenure, pensionable position restored,” they wrote in an open letter.

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