By Lawrence Williams
The top management of Dominion Christian University (DCU) situated on the outskirts of Freetown has been arrested for operating an illegal entity and awarding doctorate degrees in different specializations the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) said were fake.
“The DCU is an unaccredited institution conducting tertiary education operations illegally,” the TEC said in a statement released on March 16, 2022. They also stated that all certificates, diplomas, and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees awarded by DCU are illegal and cannot be used for employment purposes in Sierra Leone.
“Any such award granted by this illegal tertiary education institution is proclaimed null and void and therefore cannot be accepted as proof of qualification for gainful employment or other purposes in Sierra Leone,” the statement reads. Consequently, the TEC has ordered the immediate closure of the university.
The DCU on 26 March held its second national convocation ceremony for the conferment of degrees and honorary doctorate degrees on senior business executives et al. in a hideout in Waterloo despite being warned by TEC not to proceed with the ceremony. A man who identified himself as Prof. Ezekiel Hassan Samson Bangura said in a video that has gone viral that he is the founder, chancellor, and international director of the university.
The TEC had earlier directed the DCU to cease all activities related to tertiary education training until they fully comply with the statutory provisions for the registration of tertiary education institutions in Sierra Leone.
The TEC’s Public Relations Officer, Roland Jones said DCU approached them in 2021 to be registered as a Category C tertiary education training institution but has since abandoned the process because they were assessed not fit to be granted university status.
On April 1, the police arrested Prof. Bangura and a few other staff of DCU. The police said the arrests were made in line with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that establishes the pillars of cooperation and collaboration between the TEC and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) in ensuring compliance with the legal and regulatory frameworks governing tertiary education in the country. The TEC said the DCU administrators were recalcitrant to legal compliance issues and as such ordered the closure of the university on April 5.
“The TEC has ordered the closure of the said institution with immediate effect,” the statement reads.
A video of the award ceremony held in Waterloo shows Prof. Bangura boasting to his students that the DCU was legally registered and recognized both locally and internationally. He said the DCU is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), the local government in its operational jurisdiction. He further said their registration with these institutions is an attestation of their legal status but the TEC said the university is an unrecognized, illegal entity and therefore should not administer tertiary education in the country.
It is not clear how many people have received doctorate degrees from the Dominion Christian University as information suggests that a good number of recipients are politicians, civil servants, and other professionals in the top cadre.
A socio-political commentator, Sheku Forna tweeted: “Any Freetown mechanic replacing spare parts will ask the same thing: ‘Leh ah buy di Nigerian or di original?’ [should I buy the counterfeit or original?] Express indignation & they’ll tell you the majority opt for the Nigerian. As with our cars, so with education. We want the kudos, but we don’t want to pay the true cost.”