The Chairman of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) Council, Dr. Culwick Togamana, exclusively reveals that he has no power to sideline the Vice-Chancellor whilst he’s being investigated.
In an exclusive interview with SBMOnline tonight, Dr Togamana who is also the Minister of Environment, confirms that an independent SINU Audit Committee will investigate the allegations against the VC, Dr. Ganesh Chand, starting this week. The Audit Committee comprises of professional qualified accountants from reputable accounting firms in Honiara but they are not members of the SINU staff.
Despite the announcement that the SINU Council will now commerce the investigation into the allegations leveled against Dr. Chand, members of the LASINU (Lecturers Association of SINU) and SINUGSA (SINU General Staff Association) have demanded that the Chairman suspends Dr. Chand whilst he is being investigated.
A spokesman for the associations told SBMOnline tonight that they have agreed to continue withdrawing their services to SINU by tomorrow – and will not attend classes— insisting that the VC must be suspended whilst he’s being investigated.
However Dr. Togamana said: “I can’t simply make the decision by myself as the chair of the council. Or even the vice-chairman of the Council. It requires the whole council to meet to make the decision.”
He confirms that the SINU Council will convene after 16 July to look into the matter.
Dr. Togamana further explains that there are standing orders that must be followed to convene Council meetings— important amongst them is for the Council members to receive the documents seven days ahead of the meeting. He says the SINU Council secretariat is working on that and the Council is to meet after July 16 which is Wednesday next week.
He says during that period leading up to the meeting, the Audit Committee would look into the allegations against the VC adding that it is also to give the VC to present his side of story to the investigators.
“We expect them to start meeting this week to look at these allegations and their report will be tabled to the Council with their recommendations,” says the MP for Maringe Kokota.
He reiterates they are following the process as stipulated in the SINU Act and the process is now in motion.
The SINU academic and non-academic staff had filed six allegations against the VC, alleging there is abuse of recruitment/conflict of interest. They also claimed he made some dubious payments to a printing company in Fiji. As a result they demanded that the Chair of SINU Council terminates him his failure to act on their demand had result in an indefinite strike by SINU workers which started on Friday and is expected to continue tomorrow.
The VC has since fired back to the allegations by exposing corruption in the university allegedly by certain officers.
Meanwhile Dr Togamana states that VC Chand remains in quarantine at Honiara Hotel and his presence here presents an opportunity for the investigators to talk to him.