Chris Steven, Abuja
Registrar and Chief Executive of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Professor Dibu Ojerinde, has faulted calls by some Nigerians for the abolition of the Computer-Based Test (CBT) mode of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, saying this will not be in the interest of the candidates, parents and government.
The matriculation examination board has come under criticisms following hiccups that characterized the conduct of this year UTME.
But Professor Ojerinde said the protest in Lagos, a few days ago allegedly by UTME candidates demanding for cancellation of the results of the examination was sponsored to discredit the good work the Board has been doing in the efforts to strengthen the quality of tertiary education in the country.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja at the JAMB headquarters on Friday, the JAMB Registrar said conduct of public examination in Nigeria has become a war.
He disclosed that the organizer of the protest who incidentally was an owner of a centre designated for the examination was aggrieved because he was not allowed by the JAMB officials at the centre to perpetrate examination malpractice.
Ojerinde explained how a JAMB official at the Lagos Centre was threatened after rejecting N6 million bribe offer, saying this prompted the relocation of the candidates at the centre to Moro in Osun State.
Over 1,592,44 candidates registered for the 2016 UTME nationwide and in seven foreign countries.
He added that the owner of the centre, in the effort to justify money he collected illegally from parents and candidates organized the protest in Lagos.
It was also gathered that a lady who was arrested at the centre for impersonation, confessed that she and others were paid N25,000 each to do the job.
Ojerinde, said the actual candidates that sat for the examination was 1,546,633 representing 97.12 per cent while a total of 23,577 candidates absented from the examination representing 1.48 per cent of the total number candidates that registered for 2016 UTME.
He disclosed that a total of 145,704 representing 9.1 per cent of candidates had the issue of multiple results, which the Board has tried to sort out.
The JAMB Registrar, further disclosed that results of Uromi approved UTME Centre in Edo State, were being withheld as a result of massive irregularities and invasion of the centre by armed hoodlums.
A JAMB official in charge of the centre was said to have rejected an offer of N1 million “corporation fee” (bribe), allegedly by the owner of the centre in collaboration with some parents and candidates to allow them perpetrate examination malpractices.
He disclosed that the armed invaders were over 20 persons, adding that timely intervention of the military saved the day and that the candidates for the centre were relocated to Auchi, where the remaining examinations were held with the supervision of soldiers.
Ojerinde, however, admitted that there were some challenges in the first and second days of the examination leading to relocation of a total of 59,000 candidates to new centres and 16 States of the Federation.
He promised that special arrangement would be made for those who were genuinely affected by the relocation to sit for the examination at a rescheduled date to be announced to them.
He said: “I want to say it here that conducting examination is becoming a war; it is already a war. You should have seen us in the control room of the examination. When the exam was going on, I was in the war front; I was not able to leave the control room.
“The invaders were more than 20 well-armed men. The Nigeria Army had to mobilsie their men to make it possible for us to conduct examinations in Auchi, because the mercenaries in Uromi were determined to frustrate us, but of cause they frustrated them in return.
“The organisers of the protest did not do it in the interest of the candidates but done as a result of their frustration due to their inability to perpetuate their planned acts of irregularities.
Majority of these people who are frustrated collected huge sums of monies from the candidates, they were the organizers of the protest, we have adequate information to prove it.
“There was an episode in Kaduna where an owner of a centre decided to perpetuate malpractice, as a result he was arrested and quickly handed over to the police.
“Overall, there were about 145,000 of them. Immediately we noted this we refused to continue to release the results until the system error was corrected. When it was corrected all other people who sat for the examination from that time up till yesterday had no problem and now even some of them that were affected are asking for extra marks.
“In our quest to have adequate and effective centres for the 2016 exercise we approved over 500 centres. Unfortunately some of the centre operators were not sincere in providing us with the true position of their facility.
“They hired equipment and other necessary apparatus and on the examination day they were found wanting. This lead to relocation or rescheduling of candidates from some of them to more suitable centres.
Ojerinde, explained that the movement of candidates from Lagos to Moro in Osun State, by the Board was done promptly to avert attacks by hoodlums based on a security report.
The JAMB boss noted that similar incident played at Uromi Centre in Edo State, where mercenaries hired to perpetrate massive examination malpractices were exposed by the JAMB official on ground.
“This led to relocation or rescheduling of candidates from some of them to more suitable centres. I want to apologies to these two categories of people, but we are going put on a redress for those whose relocation affected them in missing their examination.