A Federal High Court, Abuja, has declared the post- Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (post-UTME) conducted by universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in Nigeria as illegal.
The court ruled on the matter on March 22, 2017 but the judgment was only reported by The Guardian on Friday, March 2, 2018.
The court said there was no extant law authorising the exercise.
According to the report in The Guardian newspaper, the court held that only the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) could conduct matriculation examinations and give admissions into tertiary institutions by virtue of section 5 (1) (2) of the JAMB Act.
In the judgment, delivered in the suit filed by the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) against JAMB, the Minister of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC), Justice John Tsoho said that the defendants have no power to allow or direct tertiary institutions to conduct further screening of candidates after they had taken the UTME.
LEDAP obtained a certified true copy of the judgment last month.
JAMB last year simply fixed a maximum cost for post-UTMEs across tertiary institutions.
The court also issued a perpetual injunction restraining all tertiary institutions in the country from conducting the post-UTME or any other form of admission screening tests.
In opposing the suit, JAMB had argued that LEDAP had no locus standi to bring the action, but the court rejected the objection and held that a registered non-governmental organisation or an activist lawyer is allowed by law to pursue in court, the right of the largely ignorant members of the society.
LEDAP had submitted that Section 5 (1) (2) of the JAMB Act provides that the body should conduct matriculation examinations for admissions into all tertiary institutions after the UTME.
Subsection (2) (3) provides: “JAMB shall be responsible for determining matriculation requirements and conducting examinations leading to undergraduate admissions and also for admission to National Diploma and the Nigerian Certificate in Education courses.”
The plaintiff had submitted the suit since 2005 noting that tertiary institutions nationwide have been illegally conducting tests and screening candidates seeking admission in violation of section 5 (10) (2) of the JAMB Act.
The court agreed with the plaintiff and said the defendants have the responsibility to ensure compliance with the JAMB Act.
The court also said the imposition of the post-UTME on candidates seeking admission was illegal and unlawful.
The spokesperson for JAMB, Fabian Benjamin, was not available for comments Saturday morning.
But the Registrar of the Board, Ishaq Oloyede, a professor, told PREMIUM TIMES the judgment was already being challenged at the Court of Appeal.
Although, there were mixed reactions over the scrapping of post-UTME by the federal government in 2016, the past Executive Secretary of the NUC, Julius Okojie, said the decision to scrap the post-UMTE became necessary to stop the cumbersome process of admission into the universities. They were later returned.
Similarly, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, in October 2017 debunked reports that he ordered a stop to the post-UTME examination as part of the process for admission into Nigerian universities.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that the judgment was delivered in March 2017 but was only reported by The Guardian on Friday, March 2.