The Milton Margai Technical University Court has exonerated the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University Prof. Philip John Kanu from allegations made against him by former staff who sexually harassed female students and extorted money in exchange for grades that made the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Gilbert Cooper of the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education to act ultra vires by sending the Vice-Chancellor on indefinite suspension and requested the University Court to investigate him, and he has been exonerated by the court, free from all allegations.
This pronouncement was made by the Chancellor of the university Dr. Victor Kabia at the well-attended General Assembly of Staff and Students on Tuesday, 6 December 2022 at the Great Hall, Goderich Campus.
Whilst reading the final decision of the court meeting for and on behalf of the court, he strongly noted that the court is a properly constituted body that is neither controlled nor manipulated.
According to the Universities Act of 2021, the Permanent Secretary did not have any locus to have suspended the Vice-Chancellor and Principal but rather the University Court.
After a thorough investigation by the committee which lasted for all most a month, the University Court did not find Prof. Philip John Kanu guilty of any infraction of the Universities Act of 2021 and the Conditions of Service for Senior Staff Members of the University.
Moreover, the University Court also did not find the Vice Chancellor Prof. Philip John Kanu guilty of demonstrating hatred for the Mende people in the University but observed that in all his replacement of staff he brought in; 94% of staff are from the South and the East, while the three Deans of Campuses are all from the South (Dean of Brookfields) and the East (Deans of Goderich and Congo Cross), out of the twenty-three Heads of Department, seventeen are from the South and East, and all the other Heads like Senior Warden of Students, Medical Doctor, Teaching Practice Coordinator, etc are from the South and the East.
The University Court also finds out that the Audio that was circulated on social media was taken out of context as the full audio was presented and carefully listened to by members of the Court Sub Committee.
The audio didn’t just talk about one ethnic group but Prof. Philip John Kanu also admonished other tribes who are in the habit of harassing female students. The audio on the social media was montage to present Prof. Philip John Kanu negatively to the Mende people so that the crimes committed by the suspended Staff of which one of them recorded the private discussion with a pen device.
The Court also finds out that, Prof. Philip John Kanu acted within his terms of reference given to him and all other Heads of Institutions in the country by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education through the Permanent Secretary in cases of sexual harassment to ‘enforce sexual harassment policy and sexual harassment of female students or students of any kind, that is a serious crime and perpetrators will not only be dismissed but they will be prosecuted “.
In a way to cover up the actions of the suspended staff for sexual harassment and changing of grades, one of those staff recorded the Vice-Chancellor and Principal after a meeting with a parent of one of the students. Mustapha Kanneh is the one who was strongly suspected to have recorded the private discussion in the office of the Vice Chancellor and Principal in Congo Cross Campus.
That discussion was never done in public and never intended to be in public.
The University Court strongly frowned at outsiders’ interference in the operations of the University.
Past staff who resigned even before the University are firmly advised to stop meddling in the affairs of the University. If they have any concerns, let them use the right processes but going to stand in front of the University Gate is viewed as Act trying to create unrest in the University, and standing under the cotton tree will not be accepted by The University Authority. Those staff whose benefits are with the government, if they try that again their current employers will be informed and appropriate actions will be taken against them. If they want to come back to lecture, let them apply.
The court has requested for all staff to apply so that they could be employed and a contract will be issued to all staff for the period of the transition.
Also, the Court agreed that for all retired staff who have received part or full payment of their ex-Gratia, their contracts will not be extended.
The Court also agreed to have a committee that will oversee all projects in the University, particularly those that have to do with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of all three campuses.
Action taken against the Vice Chancellor and Principal Prof. Philip John Kanu revealed that the court did not find him guilty and he has been exonerated and reinstated with immediate effect.
He was strongly advised to now know people with whom he should interact as the office of the Vice Chancellor and Principal all over the world in any University must be protected from allowing people to have easy access to the holder of the office.
The court also advised him to avoid his involvement in any issue that will bring the name of the University into disrepute.
The Court also encouraged the Vice Chancellor to have an open mind and continue to support his staff and the good work of the University and the Country as a whole.
The University Court unanimously agreed that the University MUST advertise for all categories of staff needed in the University.
Current lecturers could apply if they fulfil the requirements of University lecturers. The Appointment and Promotion Committee will be conducting the process.
In the area of End of Service benefits, the court assured of their continued lobby with the government to ensure that all the staff is paid their end of Service benefits.
The Court also approves that contracts be given to the current staff to provide a smooth transition after the recruitment of the University lecturers could have been completed.
The Minister of Higher and Technical Education Prof. Alpha Wurie was in attendance to honour the report of the court.