MANY candidates, aided by internal and external collaborators, have always attempted or succeeded in compromising the basic national terminal examinations at the Senior Secondary level conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO), National Board for Technical Education Board (NABTEB),and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). Despite various reforms carried out by these bodies, especially JAMB in recent times, candidates still attempt at circumventing the system. Thus, the dust raised by this year’s edition of JAMB’s UTME results has not taken Nigerians by surprise.
A major case is that involving a 19-year-old Mmesoma Ejikeme from Anglican Girls Grammar School, Nnewi, Anambra State, who claimed that she scored 362 at the 2023 UTME and thus emerged the top scorer in Nigeria. Consequently, the Anambra State government through the Commissioner for Education, Professor Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, wanting to honour her contacted the examinations body and was informed by the Board that Mmesoma scored 249 as against 362.
A statement by JAMB’s acting Director of Press and Publicity, Dr Fabian Benjamin, revealed that Mmesoma simply falsified a copy of the result slip of a candidate named “Asimiyu Mariam Omobolanle” who sat the exam in 2021 and scored 138. He said JAMB stopped issuing Notification of Result slips after the 2021 exam for the simple reason that candidates were falsifying results. Consequently, the Board has been issuing actual slips (instead of Notification of Result) since 2022, complete with the photograph of each candidate. Thus, the Department of State Security, DSS, was invited to investigate the matter.
THE Anambra State government also set up a panel of inquiry to unravel the mystery. While that was going on, a video surfaced online where the embattled teenager insisted that she scored 362, but JAMB countered the video, saying that she was most likely saying what she must have been tutored to say.
MMESOMA’s father, Romanus Ejikeme, defended his daughter, saying that she had always been a high flyer. Some citizens also suggested that she should sue the exam body.
ON the other hand, Osita Chidoka, owner of the centre where Mmesoma took the exam questioned the authenticity of the result paraded by the embattled teenager, advising her to say the truth with a promise to plead for clemency on her behalf if she did. Foundation for Investigative Journalism, FIJ, did a check and found an application on Google play store, JAMBFun Fake JAMB Result Maker, used for fake results.
FINALLY, the Anambra State Government’s panel of enquiry published its report, wherein Mmesoma was said to have confessed to the crime. Later, her father opened up saying that the girl did not confess to him on time. Also, owner of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, Innocent Chukwuma, had withdrawn the N3 million scholarship earlier awarded to her. That was after JAMB itself had slammed a three-year ban on her.
ACCORDING to JAMB Registrar, Isaq Oloyede, the board has concluded the investigation on Nmesoma’s score falsification matter and discovered she was not the only one caught, just that others have chosen not to go public. As matter of fact, the desperation by candidates for the high scores to enable them study their dream courses at the university and pressure from their parents push them into falsifying their UTME results. The negative effect of manipulating O/L and UTME results is that candidates so admitted with such find it extremely difficult to cope and thus indulge in all manner of vices on campus.
WE note sadly that cases of examination malpractice in Nigeria are not limited to JAMB’s UTME. There are many reported and unreported miracle centres across the country where students taking O’level exams choose faraway urban or remote locations, so that they can receive undue assistance from invigilators, supervisors or mercenaries.
RECENTLY, WAEC de-registered 61 secondary schools in Kogi State for gross malpractices in its 2022 examinations. Also, no fewer than 20 school officials across the country were arrested and handed over to the police by WAEC last month. Similarly, in 2022, 11,419 candidates were booked for various forms of malpractices by NECO as against 4,454 in 2021, which shows a sharp increase in the number of malpractice cases. This led to the blacklisting of four supervisors from Rivers, Plateau and Ogun States.
WE urge the examination bodies in Nigeria to up their skills in Information and Communication Technology so they will be many steps ahead of unscrupulous elements who may want to undermine the examination processes. They should always send a copy of results to candidates’ parents/guardians who may detect any discrepancies early enough. This will also put candidates in check, especially when they know that there is a copy of their original results with their parents/guardians.
WHILE we suggest stricter punishment for offenders, we believe that as a nation there should be a reexamination of our reward system. Anybody who wants to reward a candidate for academic excellence should conduct proper verification of the candidate’s result before going ahead to issue any scholarship or other rewards. Government should also declare full scale war on miracle centres by deregistering them for examinations and prosecuting the owners who should be made to face harsh punishments