Extortion: NSCDC will monitor UTME registration – JAMB   

• Two suspects paraded in Abuja

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board(JAMB) has frowned at extortion of candidates during registration for the 2020 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) by some designated banks and agents across the country.

The Board has therefore engaged the services of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for strict monitoring and surveillance of the registration exercise.

The development came as two suspects apprehended by the officers of NSCDC in Agbor, Delta State, for extortion of candidates and sale of admission forms above the approved government price, were paraded by the Commandant-General of NSCDC, Mr Muhammadu Gana, on Tuesday in Abuja.

Registrar of the Board, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting held at NSCDC headquarters, Abuja, said the engagement of NSCDC became imperative on the understanding that examination malpractice begins from the point of registration.

He noted that the national appraisal done last week on the ongoing sales of UTME forms was disturbing, saying it was discovered that candidates were being extorted by some agents selling the forms.

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He said: “Prior to 2018, admission document was sold for N5,000 and because we were making accurate return to Government and Government felt that the money was more than what is expected and decided to return some of it to the parents.

“This was why President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2018, slashed the cost of the forms to N3,500. But you and I know that prior to the slashing down, some unscrupulous persons were selling it for N10,000 and N15,000.

“They would hoard the forms and when students are desperate, they buy at any amount. What we did was to democratise the sale of the forms by making it in large quantity to whoever can sell, so that it will not be possible for few banks controlling it to hoard the forms.

“That was the first step we took and it brought some sanitary effect because the forms were available to candidates. But we still felt that the banks are overcrowded and decided to extend the sale outlets by bringing in the mobile money operators, expanded to cover all registered banks in Nigeria.

“The effect of the expansion is that we still have people who are penetrating these mobile money operators to extort money from candidates,” he said.

According to Oloyede, the deal with the designated banks was that for every form sold, a commission of N210 is given to the bank, explaining that what goes to the account of government is N3,290.

He, however, noted that the negative effect now was that there were some people who procured these forms and hoard them, “returning us to the old days when they will sell them at exorbitant price to candidates.”

The JAMB Registrar said the banks and other stakeholders were summoned to the meeting in order to stop the sharp practices that would later undermine the smooth conduct of the UTME proper, stressing that registration was key in the examination process.

He particularly appealed to the NSCDC to assist the Board in strict monitoring of the registration process, saying the Corps remains constant in the partnership with JAMB because of the high-level integrity displayed by the officers in the line of duties.

He explained that the cost of admission form is N3,500 while the prescribed book for reading for the examination is N500, bringing the total to N4,000. He added that N700 was also approved to be paid by a candidate to the Computer Based Test (CBT) centre where the candidate is to register.

On the contrary, Oloyede said what some of the agents do was to charge candidates N4,700 and still allow them to go and pay extra N700 for registration at CBT centres.

While disclosing that licenses of some CBT centres have been withdrawn for their involvement in extortion of candidates, he said, “We will be destroying the nation if we do not let them know that things should be done properly.”

Meanwhile, the Commandant-General of NSCDC, Mr Muhammadu Gana, on Tuesday paraded two suspects arrested by his men in Delta State, for extorting candidates and vowed to prosecute them to serve as a deterrent to others.

He urged his officers and men to shun corruption with all its alluring, saying a staff was dismissed last year for aiding and abetting examination malpractice, stressing that anyone found wanton would be dealt with accordingly.

The principal suspect, Ambrose, 65, with his accomplice, were charged for selling the JAMB document at N5,500 at a business Centre owned by Ambrose.

Commandant of NSCDC, Delta State, Dr Benito Eze, said the suspects were arrested on a tip-off, the Corps’ undercover operatives were sent to buy the forms in the company of JAMB officials.

He said the suspects would be arraigned in court to face charges of criminal conspiracy and extortion of money from candidates.

Ambrose, when interrogated, said he was acting as an agent to a CBT centre, explaining that out of the N5,500 collected from candidates, N4,000 is paid to JAMB while N700 is remitted to the CBT centre and N500 for transportation.

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