Globally, success or failure in the examination is the criterion for future prospects. Too much emphasis is placed on paper qualifications without any thought of the ability of the individual to put into practice the knowledge he claimed to have acquired.
In this respect, certificates are seen as means to an end. Thus, all means whether straight or crooked are employed to acquire them.
It has been revealed that the desperation by candidates for the high scores to enable them to study their dream courses at the university and pressure from their parents push them into falsifying their Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) results. The culprits who were nabbed by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and confessed to falsifying their JAMB results also disclosed how examination syndicates which specialised in fake upgrade of results of candidates operated.
In the recent case, Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme, a student of Anglican Girls Secondary School, Nnewi, Anambra, sat for the 2023 UTME and claimed to have scored 362. On July 2 this year however, JAMB, in a statement by its Head of Public Affairs and Protocol, Dr Fabian Benjamin accused the girl of manipulating her UTME score from 249 to 362. Miss Mmesoma and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) have therefore engaged in accusations and counter-accusations over the authenticity of the candidate’s claim of scoring 362 in the 2023 UTME.
With the acclaimed 362 score, Mmesoma said she was the highest scorer in the examination as against the 360 reportedly scored by another candidate, Umeh Ukechinyere. JAMB said that based on its record, Miss Ukechinyere scored the highest mark in the 2023 UTME and not Miss Mmesoma.
In a video which has since gone viral on social media, Miss Mmesoma displayed a notification of a result slip containing the 362 score, which she claimed was generated from the JAMB portal. But the examination body has since disclaimed the document, saying it stopped using such format for result slips in 2021. Meanwhile, JAMB has announced the withdrawal of the candidate’s 249 score, and suspended her from taking the examinations for the next three years.
It’s unfair, it wasn’t my fault – Mmesoma
Explaining her role in the matter, Mmesoma said it was not her fault and that the three-year ban placed on her by JAMB was unfair. She said; “After our exams, I went to JAMB portal to get my result but it directed me to another server and that was where I printed that slip from. I did not go to any computer centre. The only SMS I sent to them was through the JAMB support system and there was no reply. After all said and done, I now saw that I got 249. Then I sent them a text message through the JAMB support system to know what really happened”.
On the three-year ban placed on her by JAMB and the withdrawal of her result, Mmesoma said; “I am sad about it because it was not my fault that I printed my result like that and they said that I forged it. It is not my fault. So, it is not fair for JAMB to ban me”.
Sources at the JAMB however said the operators of the portal from where she printed the fake result are already on the run and the security operatives are on their trail.
Why Mmesoma’s case was trending ——JAMB
Earlier, JAMB spokesman, Dr Fabian Benjamin said the examination body has nothing against Mmesoma as it has been dealing with such issues before now. He said the only reason the current incident has been trending was because Mmesoma consistently insisted that the fake result she paraded was real, despite being confronted with superior evidence of her original result.
“It is a very simple issue that if anyone looks at the document that was being paraded, you could see that there was a problem. We have a process, from registration, conduct of exam and result management. The result she paraded was last used in 2021. Even the address of the JAMB CBT centre on her slip was not complete. We send out complete addresses. Otherwise, how is a candidate supposed to locate his or her centre? We don’t have anything against this girl. The highest score is from the same Anambra and also Igbo. If you go to the internet, you will see very funny softwares on how to fake JAMB results for fun. They tag it for fun, meaning that it does not reflect in the database of JAMB. The software is JAMB fake results for fun”, Benjamin added.
I knew result Mmesoma was parading was fake——Chidoka, owner of the CBT Centre
But in what seems to be in defence of JAMB, Osita Chidoka, Nigeria’s former Aviation Minister whose foundation owns the Computer Based Test (CBT) Centre where the embattled Ejikeme Mmesoma sat her Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), has spoken up on what he knows about the controversies surrounding the result obtained by the candidate. Chidoka raised some questions that suggest that the candidate’s paraded score is fake.
In an opinion piece he wrote, Chidoka said: “Miss Nmesoma Ejikeme took her 2023 JAMB at my foundation’s Computer-Based Testing (CBT) Centre at Obosi. I got some calls from worried friends about Nmesoma’s result, which had Thomas Chidoka Center as her examination centre. I allayed their worries that the result issue had nothing to do with the examination centre.
“I observed two significant red flags when I saw her result online. First, our centre is no longer addressed as Thomas Chidoka Centre for Human Development on the JAMB portal since 2021. The correct name on the JAMB portal and Main Examination Slip is Nkemefuna Foundation (Thomas Chidoka Centre for Human Development).
“Due to the difference in our CAC registration details, JAMB insisted we change to Nkemefuna Foundation with Thomas Chidoka in a bracket as an identifier. We implemented the name change in 2021. Her result showing Thomas Chidoka without the Nkemefuna Foundation, which was on her Main Examination slip, raised my suspicion about the genuineness of the result.
“The second red flag was the result template. A cursory review of some of those who took the last examination at our centre showed a different result slip template with the candidate’s passport picture, JAMB watermarks, and no mention of the name of the examination centre. I gave the young Nmesoma the benefit of the doubt and waited to see if she would explain how she got the result, which is obviously not the result template that Jamb used in 2023. I knew it was fake”.
We’re considering prosecuting Mmesoma, others —JAMB
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB has said it was considering prosecuting all those who forged its Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, to serve as deterrent to people with intention of faking its results in future.
JAMB particularly said the issue of Mmesoma Joy Ejikeme, the Anambra schoolgirl, who scored 249 but manipulated it to 360 and one Atung Gerald from Kaduna, who never participated in the 2023 UTME but forged the result and scored himself 380, will not be swept under the carpet.
Although the board said it has concluded its investigation on Mmesoma, it said it would only act when investigations being handled by independent investigative agency it involved in the matter was released.
Spokesperson of JAMB, Fabian Benjamin who said this on Friday, ruled out sole involvement of Mmesoma in the unwholesome act, noting that she may have been assisted by some dubious elements to perpetuate the act.
“Mmesoma is actually a teenager, that is our challenge now but the security agency involved in her case is profiling her. We suspect she might not be the original initiator of the act. Whoever is behind it will be exposed and prosecuted appropriately with others found involved in similar act. We found a case of one person in Kaduna State who did not obtain UTME document at all and did not write our examination but he went somewhere, forged result and scored himself 380 and he was being celebrated before we exposed him, this character will also be prosecuted, “he said.
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) smashed a syndicate which specialized in fake upgrade of results of candidates that took the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). The syndicate had opened a WhatsApp account to trick gullible candidates who wanted to increase their score in order to have undeserved advantage. Parading a kingpin and agent of the syndicate in Abuja, the Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, said the culprit was arrested during a courtesy call by a delegation of Public Complaints Commission (PCC).
The JAMB Registrar said the suspect named Adah Eche sat the 2019 UTME and scored 153 but decided to engage an examination syndicate to increase his scores. The suspect who doubled as a middleman for the candidates seeking higher scores collected huge sums of money from these candidates for onward transmission to the syndicate. The Board got overwhelming evidence of payments and banking transactions in connection with result upgrades during his interrogation as well as other documents.
According to Prof Oloyede, “following the complaint by the candidate and the visit to PCC, we decided to pick his letter of complaint and two others to address their issues and he happened to be the first person we picked and he actually wrote a letter of complaint to us knowing full well that he faked his result.
What we did was to invite him to come and pick his admission letter and he came. What such people do not know is that we have a bar code for every result which helps us verify its authenticity but this fake one has the barcode of a supermarket and was reading invalid barcode on our own platform.
“We have checked our own platform and seen that he has checked his result three consecutive times via 55019 and was replied same number of times with his original result which is 153, yet he insisted that he did not know the one with 290 was fake.”
Prof. Oloyede said the suspect owned up to the crime when confronted with overwhelming evidence of his criminal acts and printout of faked 200 score for himself, before the purported upgrade to 290 which he claimed to have originated from JAMB result checker code “55019”.
Detailed investigation revealed that Adah Eche was not alone but had been patronised for possible illicit upgrade and faking of result by some candidates whose names, registration numbers were made available to us by Mr. Eche. The Board therefore withdraws and invalidates the results of the four candidates found to have been involved in the illicit attempt to fake JAMB result.
Also, on July 4 2019 JAMB apprehended one Cletus Kokowa for ‘upgrading’ his Unified Tertiary Matriculation Board (UTME) score from 162 to 206 with the aid of a fraudster. Kokowa with candidate registration number 95329290ED became the second candidate to be apprehended with the aid of an intelligence gathering mechanism deployed by the Board after Adah Eche was apprehended for a similar offence the previous month.
Kokowa confessed before the Management of the Board that he paid ten thousand naira (N10, 000) to an examination syndicate to upgrade his score after contacting them through a WhatsApp group a few weeks earlier. The syndicate had informed him that his score could be upgraded from 162 to 206. He added that the fraudsters later sent a fake result screenshot depicting the new score of 206 to him.
During investigation, he said, “those guys sent a mail to me that they could help me upgrade my score. I then sent them my registration number and email. When the results were out, they sent a screenshot of 206 which they claimed was my score. Then, one of them called me asking me to pay them their money. I later went to JAMB website to check and found my score was still 162. I was confused. I had heard that upgrading scores is impossible, an attempt to do it is an offence but I didn’t really believe it. I didn’t tell my daddy and my uncle about my dealings with the syndicate.”
However, when Kokowa’s result remained unchanged, in the JAMB portal, his father wrote a letter of complaint to the Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, stating, inter alia, that, “I am craving your indulgence to quickly rectify the score to place my child on good stead to secure admission in his second choice of institution because your inability to swiftly address the issue at hand has led to forfeiture of my son’s Nigerian Defence Academy admission opportunity”. The Board subsequently invited Kokowa who came with his uncle, an army officer. After investigations, he confessed to the crime and was handed over to law enforcement agents.
The Registrar said, “One of the popular claims candidates usually make is that JAMB issued two different UTME results to them. It is not true because their results were processed using cutting-edge information and communication technology tools. When this boy came with his complaint, we applied to appropriate quarters to furnish us with his records and it was discovered that he had contacted fraudsters who gave him a fake result. In fact, what we discovered was that the result given to him was a superimposition of another candidate’s result on his own”.
Son of Professor of Medicine nabbed
Another candidate, Kingsley Unekwe, son of a Professor of Medicine in one of the leading Nigerian universities was nabbed by the Board for tampering with his UTME result. Unekwe has petitioned JAMB that he had been issued two different results and was subsequently invited to come and substantiate his claim. The Board, through its instruments and findings, was able to establish, in the presence of his mother, that Unekwe had tampered with his UTME result.
The young man thereafter confessed that he had contracted a ‘result upgrade’ syndicate to falsify his result. As a result, his original score of 201 was jerked up to 269. This he did to enable him pursue his dream of studying medicine at the university.
When asked as to why he engaged in the nefarious act, he claimed it was the pressure from his parents that he should study medicine that forced him to seek ways of falsifying his score as the original score from JAMB would not get him into medicine. Unekwe pleaded guilty, feigning ignorance of the seriousness of his crime and asked the Board to forgive him for his action.
Unekwe was the fifth candidate to be apprehended by the Board for result falsification.
How I manipulated my score —Chinedu
Chinedu Ifesinachi John, a 2021 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination candidate, who had planned to study medicine at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, also confessed that the fear that he might not be offered the programme of his choice with the score he had, propelled him to alter his UTME result. On further interrogation, he stated that he used the telephone number of his sister, Chinecheremi John Ifemkpa, and saved her number as ‘55019’ a sort code used by JAMB for official communications with candidates to create profiles, check UTME results among others. He added that he simply used the number to send the edited result from his sister’s phone to his own for it to appear as if it was sent by JAMB to substantiate his allegation of multiple results.
The journey of his confession was very interesting and dramatic. The first stage started with Chinedu alleging that in 2019, his JAMB score was tampered with as well as his 2020 UTME.
Chinedu, a son of a contractor, had through his lawyer, Barrister Akaiwe Ikeazor, petitioned JAMB alleging that the Board had tampered with his 2021 UTME result while praying that he should be allowed to take the UTME again. He claimed that the Board had issued him two results: the first reading 380, while the second one was alleged to have been 265.
The Board ignored his letter knowing that he was parading a manipulated result as the Board had already identified and flagged eleven candidates including Chinedu, who had manipulated their 2021 UTME results and forwarded same to the Vice-Chancellors of their chosen institutions. However, when his lawyer wrote a second letter and threatened to press for N1billion damages, the Board then felt that it was necessary for it to do the needful.
The Board therefore invited the candidate to come forward with his lawyer and substantiate his claims. Poised to make its investigation open and transparent to all stakeholders, the Board invited the Educational Correspondents Association of Nigeria, Public Complaints Commission, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Nigeria Human Rights Commission, SERVICOM, representatives of security agencies, among others, to witness the proceedings to ensure that fairness and equity were done to all parties.
The Registrar, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, after listening to Chinedu’s lawyer and father, who had accompanied him to the Board’s Headquarters, gave the duo five minutes to meet privately with Chinedu to ask him to confess his manipulation of the result and if he does not and the truth is placed before him it will be too late as he would be handed over to the police.
The second stage of the drama unfolded after the recommended meeting with Chinedu and he had remained adamant. JAMB then asked him to present his evidence as he claimed that a text message was sent to him. When he showed the message on his phone, the technical team knew the message was faked as one of the security features was absent, a signature sign, featured by other messages that emanated from the Board’s 55019.
JAMB went further by calling for the history of its communications with Chinedu from the Telco number being used by Chinedu. The details of all messages sent to him were displayed from the creation of profile for registration up to the request for the result and what was sent to him. It was at this stage that his lawyer got a rude awakening to the futility of the case. Furthermore, it was in the course of the proceedings that it came to light that Chinedu must be one of those candidates thrown up by tutorial centres and when confronted with this fact, he confessed that he belonged to a tutorial group. The modus operandi of the group was to promise candidates all kinds of scores.
It was, therefore, owing to the refusal of the candidate to own up to his crime, that the Board, through its security instruments, had proceeded to establish, in the presence of all that the message sent to Chinedu came from a phone number saved as ‘55019’ which, as he later confessed, belonged to his sister who was also a UTME candidate.
A pensive and remorseful Chinedu pleaded guilty to the crime after he was confronted with the facts of what he had done as he pleaded for clemency. Chinedu had then turned towards his father, who had vowed that his son could not do anything untoward, “I’m so sorry for putting you through this embarrassing situation.
I was afraid I’ll not get the programme I wanted and had to do this, I’ve learnt my lesson.” He said, “In 2021, I decided to leave medicine and surgery for them. So I picked petroleum engineering. When the result came it was not what I expected. To ensure that I succeeded in getting the Board to reschedule me for another examination, I used my sister’s telephone number which I had saved as 55019, type the results that bore 380 and sent it to myself.” Chinedu, who had sat the 2019, 2020 and 2021 UTME, had disclosed that he had wanted to study medicine and surgery at the University of Ibadan in 2019 and 2020.
Baffled by the confession of his client, the lawyer said, “I am shocked and very embarrassed by this boy’s attitude. I had asked him several times but he kept telling me lies. This circumstance has further enhanced my belief in the credibility of JAMB as an institution and Prof. Oloyede as an epitome of integrity. However, I plead for mercy for my client.”
.Additional Reports by Pamela Udenzi and Onwuka Udeme