Head of U.S.P. Alafua Campus placed on leave pending audit

The Head of School for the University of the South Pacific Alafua Campus, Professor Mohammed Umar, has been placed on leave with pay pending the outcome of an internal audit review.

According to Campus staff who does not have authority to speak to the media, Professor Siaka Diarra is now the acting head of school. 

Prof. Umar said he was notified by the management team at the Suva Campus in Fiji during one of his recent visits that there were some “allegations” against him. 

“That was the first time for me to hear something like that,” he told the Sunday Samoan. 

“I asked them what were the allegations and they said they did an audit review, I asked where the report is and they said they cannot give it any time soon. That was not a very good thing." 

“They said you’ll have the opportunity to respond to this report when you will get it, so I said you should give it to me now because you are taking that decision, then I should know what’s in the report. They said we will put you on full salary but you go on leave.” 

Prof. Umar said the three 12-month contracts was sent to him twice in January this year, for him to resume the three positions because he did not respond the first time the contracts were sent to him. He added his intentions were to leave the university since he was past his retirement age, but he was recalled in 2007 because the university still couldn’t find a suitable candidate to take on the role of pro vice-chancellor until now. 

“I did not apply for the position of Head of School. I was given the contract last month. In fact I was given all the three contracts of the three positions I have. After three-four days they resent it, that’s the time I thought I should,” he said. 

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“I signed for the Campus Director and Director of IRETA, but I did not sign for Head of School, I did not want to take it because the conditions were not very relevant to me, and my age I don’t want to take so many loads anymore." 

“After signing the IRETA contract, a finance officer told me my salary is not correct, and she explained to me what did not make sense, so I wrote to HR (in Suva) and I said to get my salary reviewed and see what the correct salary is and if you are not really sure take it to the vice-chancellor. I did not get any reply for that.”   

Asked on how long his leave is for, Prof. Umar said he is unsure, but he is quite happy to be on leave with pay because he wasn’t interested in signing the contracts in the first place. 

“I think I’m on leave until my contract expires which is in six months. I haven’t resigned because I want to know why this happened. You’ve got to tell me I’ve done something wrong or you sack me. You can’t because you have no basis,” he said.  

“If the University had a problem why didn’t they issue a contract in the first place, so if you had an issue against me in January why did you give me the contracts? You gave me all three contracts, it is through my own decision I did not sign one. I signed two because I will take little bit of loads but not three. All contracts are separate and have their own value.”

Prof. Umar said he has served the region, through the University, for more than 29 years and he has very good relationship with people, including his staff at the Campus. 

“In the last 50 years, I have never heard any verbal or written issues from anyone that there’s something wrong, and I am very proud of that to have served for that long." 

“What’s in the report that I did not know for the 29 and half years, and we never had any issues with any reviews?” 

Prof. Umar has been occupying the position of Head of School, Campus Director and Director of IRETA – the first position he took in 1990 – since 2007. 

Efforts to get response from the Suva Campus were unsuccessful as of press time. 

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