JAMB controversy: evidences and reactions

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By Our Special Correspondent

Romanus Ejikeme, the father of Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme, the Nigerian student who was accused of falsifying the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) by the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has said there was no plan to sue the board. The father of the controversial student disclosed this in an interview with journalists on Tuesday 4 July 2023.

Mr. Ejikeme who denied any plan to seek redress in court said media reports that the family had dragged JAMB to court, demanding N20 billion compensation over alleged misrepresentation of facts were not true. The reports alleged that while seeking a court injunction, Mmesoma sought a restraining order on JAMB and any of its personnel from issuing any further comments on the alleged forged results till further notice.

Ejikeme said the family was not even contemplating engaging the services of any lawyer, but would leave the matter to God who, he said, is the only person that can grant them justice.  He insisted that his daughter had been exceptionally brilliant from nursery school, stressing that linking such an individual to forgery was unfortunate. He said: “I am a commercial motorcyclist but principally, a musician. We moved to Nnewi three years ago from Oba. But my daughter did her primary school in Ogbunike Central School where she was topping her class till she moved over to Oba where she still maintained first position. When we relocated to Nnewi and had to transfer her to her present school, her teachers and classmates at the Oba school were calling her back, crying that her absence was going to affect the school because she used to represent the school in various competitions. The principal even called me requesting that she takes on the responsibility of paying for my daughter’s transport to and from Nnewi to attend her school. But I declined the offer. That’s to tell you the extent they cherished my daughter due to her extraordinary performance. Meanwhile, she doesn’t pride in her performance because it’s not anything to her. Mmesoma has always been a hardworking and studious student who doesn’t joke with her studies. She entered the present school from SS1 after writing her junior WAEC in Oba. Her results are there for anyone to see. It’s a public school. The 362 score she got is what she saw in the SMS sent to her by JAMB, after sending her code to the portal. That’s the same score she had been parading with for over two months before this controversy came up.”

Mr Romanus Ejikeme and daughter, Mmesoma

Describing the “deliberate delay” by JAMB in releasing the authentic result of the highest scorer, Ejikeme urged the exam body to stop defending itself and tell the entire world the truth. He added: “I’m surprised that JAMB kept quiet all this while until now they have come up with another result. But what I’ve discovered as a father is that JAMB deliberately delayed coming up with the allegations so as to come up with something they could use to defend themselves. The new score they’re claiming my daughter got is not her result. It’s unfortunate that the same people that were supposed to offer her an award for coming out tops are the ones pulling her down. My daughter has been weeping all this while and we’ve been consoling her, in the belief that nothing is too hard for God to do. She’s not happy that her result was not only altered but she’s being falsely accused for what she did not do. How can they accuse my daughter of such allegations when she doesn’t work with JAMB? When journalists come to interview her, one of the questions I ask them is: ‘does the person you’re interviewing look fraudulent?’ For me, it’s only a dullard that can engage in such a crime. 

“My daughter studies so hard that even when you ask her to go to bed late in the night, she would insist on reading more. Because she wanted to study medicine and surgery, she rarely slept, especially during exams. So after all the stress, someone would say her result was forged. On what we intend doing, there’s nothing else we can do than to insist JAMB should tell us the truth. They should stop defending themselves and tell the world the truth. Even if my daughter is asked to sit for this exam repeatedly, I’m sure she will still come out best. She’s my daughter. She has never taken second in class. Besides, all my children, two girls and boys are all brilliant. You can go and inquire from their teachers if you so wish. Just that we don’t make noise about it, just like I said earlier. Even the Soludo panel setup by the state government should go ahead with their investigation. I’m not ready to engage the services of lawyers, simply let justice be done.” 

JAMB Head Office, Abuja

 Also speaking, Mrs. Uchekwukwu Edum, Principal of Anglican Girls Secondary School (AGSS), Nnewi, where Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme studied, expressed surprise at the announcement discrediting her score. She said the school was still awaiting the outcome of the detailed investigation by the Department of States Services (DSS) when the news of the alleged forgery was broken. She said: “We’ve been at DSS to make statements, and we are waiting for the investigation report. I was surprised that no one heard from us, only for JAMB to make an announcement discrediting our student. All I can say at the moment is that we were in school when the students were scratching and checking their results. The first person had 295, another person had 265, and so on. We were still on it when Mmesoma came and brought her own result, and it was 362 and we requested that she brings evidence and when she did, we rejoiced with her. So, later we heard that there was someone from another school who got 360 and that she was the highest. So, we had to call the education secretary in the diocese. Our school is a mission school. So, we decided there was a need to reach out to the Commissioner on this. The Commissioner called JAMB, and they said there was no such thing, and that was confusion number one.”

“When the DSS got involved in the matter, I had to go to their office to make a statement. Mmesoma also wrote a statement about how she checked her result, and the DSS said they would investigate the matter to know where the discrepancies lay, and that was all that I heard. I want to make an effort to go to the girl’s house now. You know today is Monday, and there is no movement, but we will go to her house later today to know if there are other things she can tell us. You also know that our SS 3 students are not in school now. They were given a break to go home and return by next week for NECO. But the way the matter is now, we may not wait until when they return.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), Chief Innocent Chukwuma has revealed that he would do all he can to protect Miss Ejikeme from undue intimidation. Chukwuma, who had earlier awarded N3 million naira scholarship to Miss Ejikeme said he would ensure that he saw the end of the matter. He revealed to journalists in a telephone conversation that he would be sending a letter to JAMB to ensure a detailed investigation of the matter.

Chief Innocent Chukwuma

Recall that Miss Ejikeme was in the news a few months ago after she claimed she scored 362, the highest mark in the 2023 Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB exams. The student of Anglican Girls Secondary School Uruagu, Nnewi in Anambra State was subsequently awarded N3 million by the Innoson company. However, JAMB later accused Ejikeme of using software to manipulate her score to 362 as against 249.

Reacting, the Head of Corporate Communications at Innoson Group, Mr Cornel Osigwe described the allegation as strange, stating that the organization had independently verified the score before awarding the scholarship. He, however, said that the organization would withdraw the scholarship if the allegation happened to be true. Speaking with News Agency of Nigeria on Monday 3 July, Mr Cornel said: “If we find out that the girl actually manipulated her result for obvious reasons, we will withdraw the scholarship”.

 A former Minister of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, urged Mmesoma Ejikeme, to come clean on the source of her result. He promised to plead on her behalf if there is any reason to do so. Chidoka is the owner of the Computer-Based Testing (CBT) Centre where Mmesoma sat for her examination and he has appealed to Mmesoma to “come clean with the source of her result”.

He spoke about the development on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme. The story has now gone viral that the candidate asserted she was the highest scorer in this year’s UTME after claiming to have scored 362 in the examination. She received a N3 million scholarship from Innoson Motors for her alleged success in the examination.

However, the 19-year-old candidate from Anambra State on Wednesday 5 July admitted that her score, according to a text message she received from the board, was 249. Chidoka said he would beg JAMB for leniency if the candidate came clean with her result source. He said: “For Mmesoma, she should come clean and explain how she got that result and who led her down that path.  If she does that, I will lend my voice to beg JAMB to note her age and show more leniency.”

Former Aviation Minister, Osita Chidoka

Chidoka said he observed two red flags when he saw the candidate’s result online. “First was that since 2021, our centre has no longer been addressed as Thomas Chidoka Centre for Human Development on the JAMB portal. The correct name on the JAMB portal and Main Examination Slip is ‘Nkemefuna Foundation (Thomas Chidoka Center for Human Development’). Mmesoma’s 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 Mmesoma 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 then that it was fake.”

The ex-minister said his centre has been involved with the JAMB CBT examination since 2016. He also commended JAMB for coming out “forcefully” to defend its integrity. “For me, the real issue in this saga is the level of distrust of our national institutions. The social media frenzy and denigration of JAMB, together with the ethnic slant of a simple issue with clear and verifiable methods of resolution, is symptomatic of the deep distrust of our national institutions. This distrust was deepened in the past eight years with a horrifying descent of issues to our national fault lines. The ethnicisation of the issue is sad and disappointing.” Also, former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Peter Okebukola, said the result saga serves as a warning to pupils who would want to cheat in the examination. He said the innovations introduced by JAMB have shown that the board was several jumps ahead of examination cheats. The former executive secretary of NUC, who described the incident as unfortunate, said many people are unaware of the thoroughness of the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede in promoting the integrity of JAMB-conducted examinations.

Peter Okebukola

While reacting to the development in a statement, Okebukola who is the immediate Chairman, Governing Board of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN said this was a confirmation that “Prof. Oloyede and his team at JAMB “are jumps ahead of such unscrupulous persons.” He called on all educational institutions and examination bodies to adopt the Oloyede model and techniques of stamping out examination malpractice in schools and public examinations in the country.  

Meanwhile, the panel set up by the Anambra State Government to look into the controversy surrounding the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB result of Miss Ejikeme Joy Mmesoma, has released its report. In the report, the panel indicted the 19-old girl, stating that she forged her result, unaided. The panel consisting of professors and ICT experts recommended: “that Ejikeme Joy Mmesoma tenders an unreserved written apology to the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, her school (Anglican Girls’ Secondary School, Uruagu Nnewi) and the Anambra State Government.” The report said this should be done immediately. The panel also recommended that Mmesoma should undergo psychological counselling and therapy. “All prospective candidates for JAMB should adhere strictly to guidelines, processes and procedures of the examination body”.

The report by the panel showed date, time and other details of how the teenager checked her result and the responses she received from the examination body, and how she later manipulated and printed the result. Part of the report read: “The Committee invited Ejikeme Joy Mmesoma, the Principal of Anglican Girls’ Secondary School, and officials of JAMB for an interactive session with the Committee. JAMB officials led by Dr. Fabian Benjamin, the Head Public Affairs, presented the detailed processes and procedures involved in JAMB admissions, the policy changes that have occurred in the release of UTME scores since 2021 and what specifically transpired between the candidate – Ejikeme Joy Mmesoma with registration number: 20230639047FF in her quest to obtain her JAMB score. JAMB revealed the different times that Mmesoma made several requests to the JAMB portal asking for her results at different hours, and each of these times (four in number), she received in her phone, same results from JAMB indicating candidate’s UTME results to wit: English: 64, Physics:54, Biology: 74, Chemistry: 57 with a total aggregate score of 249. JAMB disclosed that the candidate was well informed of her correct score from JAMB. But Mmesoma had also sent a request to JAMB with a different registration number showing a UTME result of aggregate score of 362, with English: 98, Physics: 89, Biology: 94, and Chemistry: 81.

Prof. Is-haq Oloyede

“The results she sent differed substantially from the standard JAMB format where she got an appropriate rebuttal stating her real score of 249. Besides, a number of red-flags were also highlighted by JAMB officials showing a different date of birth, different registration number, notification of results template that had been discarded since 2021, amongst others. It was also evident that even the centre name “Nkemefuna Foundation (Thomas Chidoka Centre for Human Development) as it was known before now, which she used for the examination, was also manipulated where the candidate used the old name of the centre (Thomas Chidoka Centre for Human Development) in her own manipulated result sheet. “In Ejikeme Joy Mmesoma’s submission, she owned up in the presence of her Principal and the Education Secretary that the narration by the JAMB officials was a true and correct description of what transpired. She also admitted to have given a manipulated result by herself unaided, using the same phone Airtel number. According to her, she proceeded to the cyber cafe (Prisca Global Computers, Uruagu, Nnewi) where she printed the results she had manipulated. The Committee tried to find out the motive behind her action, but Mmesoma said NOTHING. In their own submissions, the Principal Anglican Girls’ Secondary School, Uruagu Nnewi, and the Education Secretary – Diocese of Nnewi (Anglican Communion) – expressed shock at what transpired where, in their presence, Mmesoma admitted to have manipulated her UTME results, deceiving the school, her immediate family and the State Government.” 

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) said that Mmesoma Ejikeme’s confession that she forged her UTME scores has vindicated it. In a statement released by its spokesperson, Dr. Fabian Benjamin on Saturday 8 July, JAMB noted that the report of the independent investigative committee reinforced its position that its system was  compromised. The board reiterated that it had built a reputation in terms of the conduct of credible examinations over the years and could not possibly afford to fail the nation at this critical juncture of its development. JAMB added that it would not relent in its activities and urged Nigerians to celebrate Kamsiyochukwu Umeh on her brilliant feat of being the 2023 UTME top scorer.

Obiageli Ezekwesili

Part of the statement read: “For the benefit of those who are still doubting the capacity of Ms. Mmesoma to commit this egregious crime and those who are pushing the narrative that the girl is just 16 years old even against all available data that indicate her age as an adult of 19 years, Ms. Mmesoma has owned up to committing the heinous infraction, which was carefully crafted to destroy the very foundation of one of the nation’s agencies charged with the critical role of apportioning the limited educational resource of the nation based on fairness equity and integrity. One vital lesson that Nigerians should learn from the imbroglio, is to appreciate the genuine efforts of their critical national institutions to chart the course of national rebirth. Hence, this attitude of attacking everything that makes the nation proud even by people who should know better, is disheartening. The flip side of this is to infer that some ethnic jingoists had perhaps been elevated to public office and recognition beyond their mental and emotional capacity. To those who have sent apologies after seeing the truth, we call on them to continue to believe in the capacity of the Board to deliver. We commend Anambra State Government for its patriotic and unbiased posture all through the period of the national challenge. Let us all put our hands together to build the Nigeria of our dreams as we congratulate Miss Kamsiyochukwu Chinyere Umeh as the best scorer in the 2023 UTME exercise.”

A former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, reacted to the findings of the committee set up by the Anambra State governor, Charles Soludo to investigate the saga between the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, and Ejikeme Mmesoma over her UTME result. Ezekwesili said she supports the sanctions imposed by JAMB on her, saying it would serve as a deterrent to all who participate in the systemic examination malpractices within the nation’s educational system. Ezekwesili said she is satisfied with the process and the findings of the committee which gave Mmesoma fair hearing.

In a statement via her verified Twitter handle on Saturday 8 July, the former Minister recommended a sustained counseling for Mmesoma by her family, school and church. She wrote: “I have just read the report of the Committee set up by Anambra State Government to investigate and report their independent findings on the Mmesoma and JAMB Saga. I am satisfied with the process and findings of their investigation which gave Mmesoma fair hearing to enable the Committee gather all facts. It was necessary to have independent evidence that the result Mmesoma laid claim to publicly was not only fake but that the forgery was personally orchestrated by her. There are usually syndicates at the center of perpetration of exam malpractices in Nigeria but it appears not to be so in Mmesoma’s case from the facts of the Committee’s report.


 “Mmesoma’s action has consequences. I therefore support the sanctions imposed by JAMB as a deterrent to all who participate in the systemic examination malpractices within our educational system. I also recommend sustained counseling for Mmesoma by the family, school and church to support her as she reflects on this tragic episode and makes a decision to embrace values and rewards of effort while eschewing dishonest gain for the rest of her life. I do hope that the lessons of this case will help all our pupils, students, parents, guardians and the public at large renew a collective commitment to uphold exam integrity in Nigeria as a cornerstone of Nigeria’s values and reward system for our children and youths. I wish to thank JAMB for their good work and encourage the Registrar and his team to continue with their critical service to our country and people as we all join them to sustain raising of awareness on exam integrity.

As a follow-up to the development, Innoson Vehicles has withdrawn the N3 million scholarship awarded to Joy Mmesoma Ejikeme after the Anambra committee of inquiry revealed that her Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) result was forged. In a statement issued on Saturday 8 July, Cornel Osigwe, Head of Corporate Communications, Innoson Vehicles, said the company made the “difficult decision” to withdraw the scholarship “in response to the confirmed findings”. In recent days, we have been involved in the process of investigating allegations surrounding the 2023 UTME examination results of one of our scholarship recipients, Miss Joy Mmesoma Ejikeme. It was reported initially that Miss Joy scored exceptionally high in the exam, a feat that led to her being awarded a scholarship by our company,” the company said. “However, subsequent reports of discrepancies in her UTME score led us to seek clarification from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). And to allow her to voice her stance, we engaged in direct dialogue with Miss Mmesoma. Further to this, a committee set up by the Anambra State Governor, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, carried out a thorough independent investigation into this matter.

“The findings from this rigorous investigation have now confirmed that Miss Joy Mmesoma Ejikeme did manipulate her UTME results. This conclusion is deeply disappointing and stands in direct contravention of the values we hold dear at Innoson Vehicles, particularly those that underscore our scholarship program. In line with these principles and in response to the confirmed findings, we have made the difficult decision to withdraw the scholarship awarded to Miss Joy Mmesoma Ejikeme. This action is a testament to our unyielding commitment to honesty, integrity and merit-based recognition. We acknowledge that this development is regrettable, and it has undoubtedly caused dismay among those who stood by Miss Joy including her school principal and other well-meaning supporters. However, it is crucial to maintain the integrity of our scholarship program and the values it represents.”

Innoson Vehicles said it remains steadfast in its mission to “support deserving students” and invest in the country’s education sector. The company had earlier said it would withdraw the scholarship if Mmesoma was found to have manipulated her result — “but if we observe she is innocent of the accusation, then the scholarship stands, whether she is the best or not”.

On Saturday, 8 July, a disappointed Mr. Romanus Ejikeme, the father of Mmesoma, issued an unreserved apology to the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the Nigerian public. The video footage by NTA showcased Romanus revealing that his daughter deceived him regarding her actions. 

In a more recent development, human rights activist, Harrison Gwamnishu was said to have visited Mmesoma Ejikeme after the 19 year-old reached out stating that she was suicidal.

Mmesoma and Harrison Gwamnishu                                              

Following the panel and UTME reports, Mmesoma said the backlash she received made her want to take her life. She reached out to Harrison, who then travelled from Asaba to Nnewi in Anambra, to pay her a visit. It will be recalled that both the Soludo panel and the recommended that Mmesoma should undergo psychological counselling and therapy. In the same vein, a former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili also recommended sustained counseling for Mmesoma by the family, school and church, to support her as she reflects on this tragic episode and makes a decision to embrace values and rewards of effort while eschewing dishonest gain for the rest of her life.

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