Senator Iroegbu in Abuja with agency report
Barely 24 hours the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) vowed to unravel the mysterious â€œsnakeâ€ that swallowed N36 million from its vault in Benue State, another state Coordinator of the board in Nassarawa State has given a bizarre account of how another N23 million got disappeared.
Reports revealed yesterday that the JAMB official, Labaran Tanko, had confessed to the investigative panel of the board set up to audit all the state accounts.
Tanko was said to have claimed that his car got burnt and in the process, scratch cards worth N23 million were destroyed in the inferno.
When contacted, the Head of Media and Public Relations, JAMB, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, confirmed to THISDAY about the development.
Benjamin said it was part of the broader investigations about the activities of the board especially at the state levels.
Findings had revealed that the JAMB Registrar Ishaq Oloyede, was not impressed with the development and dismissed Tankoâ€™s claims, which seems to have mirrored that of Benue debacle.
In Benue saga, a JAMB sales clerk, Philomina Chieshe, had told JAMB registrar and his team who conducted fact-finding sessions on alleged fraud at the board that she could not account for N36 million she made in previous years before the abolition of scratch cards by the organisation.
In the course of interrogation, Chieshe confessed that her housemaid â€œconnived with another JAMB staff, Joan Asen, to â€œspirituallyâ€ steal (through a snake) the money from the vault in the accounts office.
But in the case of Tanko, the board said after a thorough investigation, it discovered that the cards which reportedly burnt alongside Mr. Tankoâ€™s car were used by students in Nasarawa State to register.
It said this was easy to discover through simple checks done by its officials.
Tanko, who made the confession at a session where suspects of fraud and criminality were interrogated by top officials of the board, including Oloyede, however stood by his claim.
â€œI thank God that I am alive today,â€ Tanko told the panel.
â€œI had an accident on July 3, 2016. I was not the one that packed the cards because I was rushed to the hospital, and they came to pack the burnt scratch cards to the office but it could not be counted. I have the serial numbers of the cards.â€
Until Oloyedeâ€™s took over as registrar, JAMB candidates usually purchased scratch cards from JAMB state offices and other designated centres to gain access to the boardâ€™s website for either registration or to check their admission status.
However, new reforms introduced by Oloyede when he assumed office in 2016, ended the use of scratch cards, replacing it with a more efficient and effective platforms.
The board also gave reasons why Tankoâ€™s defence was untenable.
â€œEvery staff who has scratch cards in their possession must have the serial numbers. We found out that the cards you claimed got burnt were used despite the police report you presented to us and for JAMB, that is N23 million of government money,â€ the registrar said during the session.
He also said the suspect, just like the lady indicted in Benue, would be handed over to the police once the board concludes its in-house investigations.
â€œThose that we want to transfer have been transferred to the (board) headquarters until they account for the missing funds. But those we believe are â€˜beyond usâ€™ will be handed to the police immediately,â€ Oloyede said.
Earlier, Benjamin had in his response to Premium Times, outlined steps taken by the board on the matter.
â€œAll the suspects have been suspended by the board. In Tankoâ€™s case, the committee has already written a report which the management have sent to the (Education) ministry. Once it is approved, it will be done,â€ Mr. Benjamin said.
He also said the board will monitor with careful scrutiny how staff entrusted with sensitive responsibilities handle government funds henceforth.
â€œThe fight against corruption by the board was given a boost by the recent visit by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu. Given the kind of commendation by Magu and the confidence reposed in the management of the Oloyede-led board, we would have no option than to continue to do more,â€ Benjamin said.