Sierra Leone says deceased minister agreed to establish Limkokwing campus without due processes

Lim Kok Wing (middle) surrounded by students at the Sierra Leonean campus. Photo: Limkokwing Sierra Leone /Facebook
Lim Kok Wing (middle) surrounded by students at the Sierra Leonean campus. Photo: Limkokwing Sierra Leone /Facebook

Sierra Leone’s anti-graft agency yesterday concluded investigations involving Malaysia’s Limkokwing University, confirming that its former minister had enabled a campus to be set up without following due processes. 

In a media statement five months after the investigation was launched, the Anti-Corruption Commission, or ACC, for the West African country said that its former education, science and technology minister Minkailu Bah, who died on May 18, had in 2013 single-handedly entered into an agreement to establish the university campus in Sierra Leone. The school, located in Freetown, was completed in 2017.

“The investigations confirmed that Dr. Minkailu Bah single-handedly entered into an agreement with the Limkokwing University for its establishment as a private university in Sierra Leone in 2013, without following the due process as provided in the Laws that govern tertiary public education in Sierra Leone,” a media statement said. 

The agency also highlighted discrepancies in the agreement with university founder Lim Kok Wing, also said to be a Malaysian philanthropist. For example, they did not mention the fees each student was required to pay for each academic year although Bah had told them that the fee structure had already been discussed with the former financial secretary. 

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Finance has denied its involvement.

The fees later came up to US$3,000 per degree student and US$2,500 per diploma student, per annum, which was higher than the tuition fees set by other universities within the nation, said to be between US$1,000 and US$1,500.

The agency also found that the Sierra Leone government owes US$3 million to Limkokwing University, US$2 million of which were revenues for one academic year and was paid in 2018. This was a “huge variance,” according to the anti-graft agency, citing tuition fees costing about US$2,500 to US$3,000 per student each year. 

It did not reveal the number of students currently enrolled at Limkokwing’s Sierra Leonean campus.

“The investigation was summarily concluded as the main suspect in this matter is now dead and, as a Criminal Investigations-based Commission, a man dies with his indictment,” the ACC wrote.

Bah was also investigated for the alleged misappropriation of public property and revenue; abuse of office; and abuse of position when establishing the Limkokwing private campus.Limkokwing University is also currently facing an investigation by Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education following allegations of racism, which comes weeks after the tech university sparked online outrage over a billboard depicting founder Lim Kok Wing as the “King of Africa.”

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