A man who claimed to be a professor, Jide Jisus, was on Thursday arrested for alleged examination malpractice as the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for this year began across Nigeria.
However, officials of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), which is organising the examination, and candidates in many centres said the tests took off smoothly.
But our reporters observed a few hitches at some centres in Abuja and other states on the first day of the examination.
According to a statement by the spokesperson of JAMB, Fabian Benjamin, Mr Jisus was apprehended by the monitoring team of the registrar of JAMB in an examination hall at Brix Academy, Jabi, Abuja.
“His identity was shrouded in dubious tales. He claimed during interrogation that he was one of the professors selected by the Board to oversee the conduct of the 2019 UTME,” Mr Benjamin said in the statement.
“He also claimed that he was awarded a professorial position by Christian University, Isolo, Lagos and that he had two professorial awards from “Becket” University England and Freedom University.
“He similarly claimed to be a staff of Anchor Polytechnic, Kubwa, Abuja, an institution that does not exist. According to him, he said he is the president of the United Nigeria Chaplin Institute of Peace Academy.
“However, it was discovered that he had a daughter who was taking the 2019 UTME in the same centre where he was caught.”
The Board’s operational guideline does not allow unauthorised persons into the examination hall.
“The Professor was, therefore, not one of those selected by the Board to monitor the conduct of the 2019 UTME,” the statement said.
Some other hitches observed on Thursday had to do with the verification of the biometrics of candidates and ban of writing materials from the examination centres.
According to the process of the examination, candidates are supposed to do their biometric verification before and after the examination.
Premium Times reported the board saying biometric verification is the only mode for the admittance of candidates into the examination centre.
In its weekly bulletin, JAMB also warned officials that no candidate should be kept waiting if he or she cannot be verified, saying such candidates should be directed to contact JAMB.
Nedochianya Okoli, who wrote her exam at the Digital Bridge Institute, Abuja, said she did her biometric verification and wrote her examination, but the device could not read her thumbprint after the examination.
“I have been trying to thumbprint after my examination, but my profile is not coming up. I have been here since 10 a.m,” she told one of our reporters.
“I have washed and also cleaned my hand, but it is still not working. I hope JAMB will be able to rectify it,” she said.
Karl-mom Goong, who sat for the examination at Global Institute, said the absence of pencils to work with posed challenges to him.
” The officials were strict. They asked us not to come with any writing material, which I adhered to. On getting to the exam hall, they gave me a working sheet without a pencil. So, I was unable to solve equations in Physics and Chemistry,” he said.
Azumi Garba, a parent, also complained that the candidates were not provided pencils to use for calculations.
”My daughter did not go with a pencil and could not solve her equations. I am not happy with this. She said she has hope in English but lacks hope in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. They should provide pencils or allow them to go in with pencils and pen,” she said.
PREMIUM TIMES observed that some centres provided pencils.
Some of the centres also said there were two cases of biometric verification.
Many parents who spoke with Premium Times also urged JAMB to specify the type of pencil the candidates can use to avoid these issues.
In Jigawa State, the examination commenced at 8 a.m in the three Computer Based Training Centre (CBT) in Dutse, the state capital.
A PREMIUM TIMES correspondent reported that the first batch of the candidates was already screened and seated for the examination by 8 a.m.
One of the centres is at the office of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), opposite the Mechanic Village road.
The centre manager, Muhammad Isa, told PREMIUM TIMES that the fingerprint verification was done across the centres to authenticate the candidates.
”As you can see it yourself, all the candidates are being screened. This is strictly to avoid malpractice,” Mr Isa said.
In Jos, some of the candidates lamented early technical hitch where there was a slow take-off of the computer systems, which were later rectified.
In Jos, some candidates complained about slow take-off of the computer systems, a problem which was later rectified.
At Al-Iman School, candidates said the computers functioned effectively and the examination was hitch-free.
A candidate who sat at the College of Forestry said they were screened, but at the early stage, their biometric was not captured.
“But later the problems were corrected and we successfully sat for the examination,” the candidate said.
Similarly, many candidates at 3MD multi-purpose Dynamic centre complained that they could not write the examination because most of the computers did not function. They said some of them were told to come back on Friday to write the exams.
The proprietor of Skeynet System, one of the centres, Nurudeen Muhammad, said candidates at the centre did not encounter any problem.
It was observed that the candidates wrote the exams in four batches. Security personnel and JAMB officials were at the various centres in the state.
In Oyo State, a candidate, Fathia Balogun, was denied access to her examination centre because the biometric verification machine did not recognise her fingerprints.
There are 32 approved Computer Based Test (CBT) centres across the state.
Miss Balogun registered for the examination at the University of Ibadan CBT centre located at Awo Hall. She was seen at about noon crying while her mates were writing the examination at the Esther Oshikoya CBT Centre, along the Sango-Eleyele Road, Ibadan, the state capital.
She expressed surprise that the machine did not recognise her fingerprints after she forfeited writing one of her papers in the ongoing West African Examination Council (WAEC) because it clashed with UTME.
She appealed to JAMB to look into her case.
“The machine recognised my fingerprint when I registered, but now it did not. I don’t know what caused it. I don’t know what to do.”
Her guardian, Abdullahi Akingbade, said he took her for the registration at the UI CBT centre.
He said the problem was with the device.”The same device they used to capture her fingerprint is the same they are using now. So, why will the device not recognise her now?”
A JAMB official on the centre who introduced himself as Ezekiel identified server failure as one of the challenges at the centre.
He said all efforts made by the officials to ensure the machine recognised Miss Balogun’s fingerprint failed.
Meanwhile, the police in the state said they would give maximum security to all the CBT centres.
Police spokesperson in the state, Olugbenga Fadeyi, said this in a statement sent to Premium Times.
Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), in the state said it deployed 64 officers across the 32 centres in the state.
Responding to the issues, JAMB’s spokesperson, Mr Benjamin, said the board was aware of the “antics of the candidates claiming they have biometric problems and we are watching closely.
“How will you thumbprint in and cannot thumb print out? We will address all the issues, ” he said.
According to him, “we are not supposed to provide pencils, and if you come with suspected one, we are not supposed to allow you to go in with it.”