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Amid uncertainty and a court battle over the University of Goroka’s vice-chancellor seat, Higher Education Minister Wesley Raminai surprised staff and students by leading the university’s interim council members onto the campus to be “sworn in”.

The usually quiet study-friendly Humilaveka campus atmosphere was disrupted by a chanting group of Huli wigmen until the delegation arrived about noon, reports The National.

The majority of staff and students, gripped by confusion, were not present to provide a traditional university reception.

Joseph Sukwianomb
Goroka chancellor Joseph Sukwianomb … legal battle over university leadership. Image: LoopPNG

Only a handful of senior staff members received the delegation.

Raminai led them to the Mark Solon Auditorium board room.

The members were sworn in by Goroka District Court Senior Magistrate Josephine Nindue.

They were Joe Wemin (chairman), Dr Goru Hane Nou, Takale Tuna, Johnson Kent, Nelson Auwo, Rose Koyama, John Sari, Steven Nujuitu, Robin Guebianbazzynu, Wayne Joseph and Lavert Ganimo.

Raminai congratulated the interim council members, describing the council as balanced with members from all regions of Papua New Guinea.

Police serve court order
The new council members were then ushered out of the campus to a luncheon when police served a National Court order on Raminai, Wemin and acting vice-chancellor Dr Teng Waninga.

The order dismissed a motion Dr Waninga had filed in court to restrain chancellor Dr Joseph Sukwianomb and vice-chancellor Professor Musawe Sinebare and their agents from interfering with Waninga’s management of the unversity.

Dr Sukwianomb is a former vice-chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea and a onetime manager of the Prime Minister’s Department.

Lawyers Hebert Wally and Tony Waisi for Sukwianomb and Sinebare advised that the order had weakened Dr Waninga and Wemin’s position at the university with any activity following the service being deemed legally “in contempt”.

Late last month, the Chief Justice, Sir Gibbs Salika, had ordered the minister not to interfere with the university leadership.

The service of the document was received and acknowledged by Raminai, Wemin and Dr Waninga through their lawyers.

However, Raminai then allowed Wemin to chair his first council meeting as “chancellor”.

Wemin appointed as the disputed officers Dr Waninga as vice-chancellor, Dr Steven Potek (pro-vice chancellor policy and planning), Dr Mathew Landu (pro-vice chancellor academic, research and innovation), Naomi Kouse (registrar) and Jim Mek (bursar).

The appointments were for a short term of six months.

Republished with permission from The National.

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