Tubman University Suspends Woods, Fires Two, in Corruption Investigation

HARPER, Maryland – Tubman University has suspended Johnny C. Woods for his alleged involvement in kickbacks from GBECCO, a local construction company, according to an account from an employee who attended a meeting where the decision was announced.

Henry Karim, an administrative assistant, said Woods has been asked to stay away from the university pending the outcome of a committee tasked with investigating the bribery allegations in an announcement made by Edward Lama Wonkeryor, the university’s president, on Monday, August 22.

Woods’ alleged suspension comes less than a week after Roland T. Barnes, associate vice president for facilities and campus operations, was suspended based on allegations that he received kickbacks from GBECCO.

The university has not yet issued a press release on Woods’ suspension. Solo O. Gaye, director of public and media relations for Tubman University, would not confirm or deny whether Woods had been suspended but cautioned the public to wait patiently until the committee convened by the university’s president could present its findings.

“We are very open in the process but we cannot just make statements to the press until… we have the findings and all our findings will be published,” he said. “There’s nothing hidden here. We’re committed to transparency. We have our policies that guide the university. We are open and we will let the information out to the people.”

Karim also told The Bush Chicken that in addition to Woods’ suspension, two employees, including himself, were also dismissed for “breach of confidentiality” related to leaking confidential data belonging to the university. He named the other employee dismissed as Darlington David, a professor.

Gaye confirmed the university’s termination of both Karim and David for “breaching the confidentiality agreement signed between him and the university.” He said the university’s action complied with section 14.3a of the new labor law.

Karim’s termination letter, signed by the university’s president, said the action was taken “as a result of your involvement in the leakage of sensitive university information, including salary and allowance of staff, to various media outlets and the larger Tubman University community, through email communications.”

Several anonymous members of the faculty senate had leaked employee salary information to The Bush Chicken and other media outlets which showed that several employees were receiving dual salaries for multiple positions they occupied. Some of the positions appeared to have overlapping functions.

Woods was one of those receiving salaries for both the chief of staff for presidential affairs/board liaison position, in addition to his role as the interim vice president for administration.

Featured photo courtesy of Tubman University

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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