Following the arrest of some suspects last weekend by the police for retailing leaked WASSCE May/June, 2018 examination question papers on websites and WhatsApp, the West African Examinations Council has threatened to penalise those found culpable, including cancelling the entire results of the candidates. The development has generated reactions from parents who are calling for a regulatory body to monitor such sites to curb examination malpractices. Funmi Ogundare reports
Examination malpractices seem to have been taken to another dimension in the country as people now devise various means of cheating to either pass or make ends meet. A worst case scenario is when those who are supposed to be protecting the integrity of and supervising the on-going May/June West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) are the ones leaking the question papers to interested candidates for a fee to pass.
However, the question papers found their way into the hands of unscrupulous people who in turn send prepared answers to the internet for interested candidates for a fee. For instance, there are several sites such as naijaclass.com, examcrown.com, exponet.com, examsort.com, gurus.com, among others, where students have to send recharge cards of N400 to have access to questions and answers of the exams they are writing and with a subscription of N800, the answers are sent directly to their mobile phones, With N400, they have to go online to get the answers.
These sites always have all exam papers and solutions too, probably a day or two before the exams.
The recent arrest of four suspects by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) in Ondo, Edo and Osun States for retailing leaked WASSCE May/June, 2018 examination question papers on websites and WhatsApp platforms readily comes to mind.
The suspects, Samuel Kayode, 28-year-old from Ondo State; Adebayo Ifeoluwa, 17, from Osun State; Alayande Ahmed and Festus Elusode, 20, from Edo State were all arrested in their respective states. Kayode, a part-time teacher in two secondary schools based in Ilesa, disclosed that he also taught Physics and Mathematics in a private tutorial class where he assisted candidates with questions and already prepared answers.
According to him, after working as a tutorial teacher for seven years, he got a part-time employment in two private schools in Ilesa, Osun State, where he also helped students preparing for WASSCE with leaked questions and prepared answers. He said he did it to make a living.
â€œI got a part-time teaching job when I couldnâ€™t secure a government teaching job after graduating for NCE and couldnâ€™t settle for the little salary I was being paid by my employers, so I decided to help myself with what I have been doing as a tutorial teacher by assisting lazy students to source for WASSCE examination questions and answers via some online platforms that deal in the illegal business.
â€œAfter registering candidates in their various centres, I liaise with some anonymous people who we call â€˜web mastersâ€™. The web masters have insiders in various examination boards in the country with leaked question papers and buy such from them,â€ he explained.
â€œThere are many websites operated by the web masters, where leaked WASSCE questions and prepared answers are sold to subscribing candidates. Some of these websites include; www.examloaded.com, www.guruscamp.com, www.ceebook.net, www.solutionclass.com and www.expotab.com. They also hawk NECO, GCE and JAMB examination papers with answers.â€
Kayode added that the contact person on web master named â€˜Danâ€™, who doesnâ€™t pick calls but only deals on text messages and WhatsApp messages usually sells answers via WhatsApp or issues a quick login password that can be issued on the website and immediately redirect the user to the page where the already prepared answers are.
â€œI then retail the answers I have bought from Mr. Dan to candidate customers who I coordinate carefully on a WhatsApp platform named â€˜WAEC VIPâ€™ where candidates wait patiently to receive the answers to the questions after sending to me N400 recharge cards of any network. I demand for N400 recharge card from candidates for general subject while I charge N800 for Mathematics and English Language.â€
In his confession, Ifeoluwa, a 200 level Accounting student of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) said he sold leaked WASSCE examination questions and answers to a group on WhatsApp called â€˜MCCâ€™ where candidates paid a recharge card of N400 to get questions and answers.
â€œSometime this year, just before the on-going WASSCE examination, I belong to a sports betting WhatsApp group where we forecast for games. One of the members sent a broadcast about how to get WASSCE questions and left a WhatsApp link which I joined before thinking of creating my own â€˜MCCâ€™ after a thoughtful assumption of how profitable the venture looks.â€
The other suspect, Elusode, who failed school certificate examination before becoming an apprentice at a welding and metal fabrication shop, also chose the retailing of leaked WASSCE question and answer as a side hustle.
He said he got to know about the deal on a website where he downloaded songs before a pop asking â€˜if you want to receive exam result click hereâ€™ which he did and dully registered to start the retailing of the answers among candidates in the area.
On his part, Ahmad said â€œI got to know about WASSCE questions and answers racketeering on a website after dropping out of secondary school at SS2 due to lack of funds, but I promised to assist my friends who were preparing to sit for WASSCE at all cost.
â€œI contacted an admin on a WhatsApp group where answers were being sold to candidates who registered with him after sending N400 recharge card to him. The subscribers receive questions and answers few hours before their examination.â€
The operatives of the Lagos State Police Command also arrested a pastor, who allegedly operated a fake WAEC centre and deceived many unsuspecting candidates who registered with him and sat for non-existing examinations in the centre after collecting various amount of money from them. Pastor Adeniyi Joshua of El-Supreme Church was arrested following a complaint lodged to the police on April 25.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Edgal Imohimi, who confirmed the arrest, during a press briefing and parade of suspected criminals at the commandâ€™s headquarters in Ikeja, said the arrest was made following a complaint by a senior staff of WAEC Office, Ogba that there exist a fake WAEC centre at El-Supreme Private School located at 3 Oseni Adekogbe Street, Igbogbo Ikorodu. â€œOperatives of the command attached to Area â€˜Gâ€™ Ogba were mobilised to the above address where one Pastor Adeniyi Joshua of El-Supreme Church was arrested.â€ He said the police recovered from him WAEC question papers and answer sheets suspected to be forged.
The police boss disclosed that after registering the candidates, the suspect will set the questions by himself, make the candidates to sit for the examinations in his fake centre, collect the answer sheets and question papers and dump them somewhere in one of his offices.
Edgal advised parents to monitor their wardsâ€™ preparation for examination instead of allowing them to engage in examination malpractices. The suspects have been transferred to the State CID for further investigations.
Some parents that have been following the development expressed displeasure about it, saying that there should be a regulatory body to monitor such sites within the ministry of communication.
Mr. Charles Opara said, â€œyou will be surprised to hear names of prominent people behind those sites. Truth be told, there is no smoke without fire; there is no denying the fact that staff of the various examination boards are involved. We live in a compromised environment.â€
He added: â€œThe crazy part is that these websites are not hidden. I checked a few of them out and they make no bones of advertising their horrendous trade. Customers even give testimonies and recommendations.â€
Mrs. Ronke Oladeji said: â€œIn this country of ours, hardship has necessitated a lot of crime, people cheating online is not greed, it is pure crime to enrich themselves. The criminals knew the system is bad, they carved a market for themselves by harnessing those age bracket, â€˜bingoâ€™ they are making money.â€
The Head, Public Affairs of WAEC, Mr. Damianus Ojijiogu told THISDAY that from its investigations, supervisors take pictures of the questions with their phone cameras and send them out while the examination is going on.
â€œOur monitoring and investigations of the on-going examination have established the fact that certain school principals, invigilators, supervisors and candidates who had succeeded in smuggling mobile phones and other electronic devices into the examination hall, snap the question papers after the examination must have commenced and forward to their criminal collaborators who in turn provide solutions to the questions and send to their subscribers via rogue websites, SMS, WhatsApp and other social media.
â€œIn addition, in several cases during our monitoring and investigations, it was discovered that question papers of previous examinations were photo shopped by this despicable elements to scam gullible candidates who patronise their rogue websites and WhatsApp platforms.â€
He said as soon as the council is done with its internal investigations, it will report the erring supervisors to their various ministries of education and ANCOPSS; and blacklist them.
â€œThe affected schools will suffer various sanctions ranging from de-recognition to having their recognitions withdrawn out rightly. The candidates will not be left out, as some will have their subject results or entire results cancelled; some will be barred from writing the WASSCE,â€ he said.