By Ayodele Popoola
A Federal High Court in Akure, Ondo State, has adjourned the trial of four suspects arrested for registration impersonation and examination malpractices during the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination UTME in Ondo State.
There were mixed feelings in the court when the defendants broke down in tears, for failure to secure bail prior to the court’s vacation.
Their relatives who could not help, also betrayed emotions and shed tears as they have been remanded at the Olokuta Correctional Centre since May 24, 2023.
Three of the suspects; Timilehin Akinwale, Olayinka Mustapha and Peter Okereke, were arraigned before the court for registration impersonation, while Feranmi Adesuyi was charged with examination impersonation.
They are to spend two more months in custody, pending when the court reconvenes from vacation, which starts on July 21, 2003 and ends in October.
According to the prosecution,“The first three defendants committed the impersonation act on February 15 at Aina Awaw International College, Ilu Abo in Akure, which was a CBT centre for UTME registration and examination.
The change sheet read in part, “That you, Okereke Peter, 29; Akinwale Timilehin, 22, and Mustapha Olayinka Idris, 23, on February 15, 2023, at Aina Awaw International College, Ilu Abo, a CBT Centre for UTME registration and examination in Akure, Ondo State, within the jurisdiction of this court, did impersonate Folarin Damlok, Kazeem Imisi, and Tijani Sheun respectively, during CBT UTME registration, contrary to Section 3(3)(c) of Examination Malpractice Act, Cap E15, LFN, 2004, and punishable under the same section.
“That you, Feranmi Adesuyi, 29, on or about April 28, 2023, at Amable CBT centre, Owo, during the 2023 UTME in Ondo State, within the jurisdiction of this court did conspire with one Sanusi Tunde, who is at large, to complete his registration and also impersonated the said Sanusi Tunde for the UTME, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 10 of Examination Malpractices Act, Cap E15, LFN, 2004 and punishable under Section 3(2)(c) of Examination Malpractice Act, Cap E15 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
When the matter came up for hearing Wednesday, an official of the UTME, Smith Oseinat Ayodele, told the court that Feranmi Adesuyi was arrested for examination impersonation.
According to her, “Adesuyi committed the said offence on April 28 at Amable CBT Centre in Owo, during the 2023 UMTE.”
While testifying as a prosecution witness, Ayodele told the court she served as Biometric Registration Officer at the centre.
She said Feranmi approached her to verify his thumbprint before proceeding to write the examination, but that the picture displayed from the thumbprint was different from Feranmi.
According to her, “He was looking different from the picture uploaded in the UTME portal. I questioned him and he said he was the same person in the picture. I asked him again and he repeated it after analysing everything.
“I asked him to step aside. I called other examination officers and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. They checked everything and tried to question him. He later confessed that he was helping another candidate.”
Also, the prosecuting counsel, Moses Osimhen, applied for a date to enable him call more witnesses.
The Presiding Judge, Justice T. B. Adegoke, reserved ruling on the bail application by counsel to Feranmi, and said the date would be communicated to parties in the suit.
Justice Adegoke also adjourned till November 13, 2023, ruling for trial and bail application for the other defendants.