University Director "no longer employed"

The former University of the South Pacific (U.S.P.) Alafua Campus Director, Mohammed Umar, is "no longer employed" by the university in the wake of an investigation into allegations of financial irregularities.

This was confirmed by the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, in response to questions from the Samoa Observer.

But he would not say if Mr. Umar had been fired, resigned or if his contract had not been renewed.

Minister Loau, who is also a member of the University’s Council, said Mr. Umar is still “under investigation”. 

“[He's] not cleared," the Minister said of the status of an investigation into the former top administrator at the U.S.P.

"He’s still being investigated and the report has not been completed.”

Mr. Umar was both Campus Director and head of the U.S.P.. Agriculture School and Research Institute, when he was placed on leave with pay in February pending an investigation into allegations on “poor management” and “financial irregularities”.

In a phone interview, the University’s Pro-Chancellor in Fiji, Winston Thompson, said the U.S.P. Council met on Thursday and Friday last week to talk about issues regarding the university, including the Alafua Campus. 

Last week, a report prepared by the Auckland-based firm, Binder Dijker Otte (B.D.O.) on the independent investigation commissioned by the Council at its meeting in Port Villa, Vanuatu in May this year, was presented to the Council during a special meeting in Nadi, Fiji. 

Fijian, Dr. Joeli Veitayaki, is the new Campus Director for Alafua. He was appointed by the university in June this year. 

Professor Siaka Diarra is the Acting Head of the Campus' School of Agriculture and Institute of Research.

Mr. Thompson referred further questions about the status of the Alafua Campus investigation to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia. 

E-mailed questions sent to the Vice Chancellor and his secretary remain unanswered. 

According to the statement by the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee, Mahmood, Khan and Deputy Pro Chancellor and Deputy Chair of Council, Aloma Johansson, the investigation presented at this month's special Fiji meeting was conducted following a paper prepared by the Vice-Chancellor earlier this year.

The paper was titled: “Issues, Concerns and Breaches of Past Management and Financial Decisions”. 

Several requests for comment from Mr. Umar have not been responded to.

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