* Impersonation drops from 74,000 to 4,900
By Kuni Tyessi
The Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof Ishaq Oloyede, on Friday said effective checks have been mounted by the federal government against incidents of identity theft in the admission process into the country’s tertiary institutions.
Oloyede, who disclosed this at a briefing in Bwari, Abuja, said the government, through the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, issued a directive mandating JAMB to transfer candidates’ biometric data to their institutions of choice, thus ending fresh capturing of biometrics and pictures of candidates for post-UTME tests.
The JAMB boss said Adamu’s directive had already uncovered 657 cases of candidates, whose photographs could not match the ones recorded in JAMB’s database and were currently angling to change the photographs, adding that the board has referred those who requested for change of photographs to come down to its headquarters, with the intention of bringing perpetrators of fraud to book.
“In previous admission exercises, certain candidates who appear in the institution for registration were different from those who actually sit for the examination. This was possible because the institutions were taking fresh pictures and biometrics thereby making it possible for impersonators to have a field day to ply their trade.
“In the last exercise, we insisted, as directed by the Hon. Minister of Education, that all institutions should use the already captured biometrics and pictures by the Board. This made it impossible for the candidates whose examinations were taken on their behalf by professional examination takers to gain admissions,” he said.
According to him, the implementation of the directive led to the arrest of a police constable with the Akwa Ibom State Division, one Etim Israel, who was paraded before newsmen on allegation of examination malpractice.
Etim had hired a school teacher named Emmanuel and paid him N30,000 to write the 2020 UTME for him, while he was away on official duties. Luck however ran out on him when his photograph could not tally with Emmanuel’s and was forced to visit the JAMB headquarters in Abuja for rectification.
According to him, he scored over 200 points in UTME and wanted to read fishery at the Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpaden Mpat Enin, but the new measures in place would not let him dare show his face in his chosen institution as it is the picture of his impersonator that would be displayed at the screening venue.
Etim however said he has learned his lessons and was willing to cooperate with the police to carry out a thorough investigation leading to the arrest of Emmanuel, who had fled from his home since after sighting him with police on their way to arrest him.
Further giving update on the reduction of identity theft in the UTME process, JAMB Registrar, Oloyede, said incidents of impersonation and other forms of identity theft during the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) dropped from 74,000 in 2019 to 4,900 in 2020.
The JAMB boss, while admitting that the 4,900 cases were still high and questionable, said the drastic reduction was triggered by a process introduced by the board which allows officials to take a snapshot of any candidate who claims he could not be biometrically verified, and compare with the picture in JAMB’s database.
“Last year, one of the steps we took was that if somebody comes to be verified for examination and he is not verified biometrically, we will ask that the candidate or the person who appears to write the exam should take a new picture and take fresh biometrics of the candidate.
“Many of the candidates were under the impression that that was an indication that we would ask them to sit for another examination; that a make-up would be made for them as usual. But you would recall that last year we had over 70,000 candidates in that category. But that has been reduced to 4,900 this year.
“When candidates who are impersonating were asked to subject themselves to another round of picture-taking and biometric capturing, many people had erroneously thought that was a preparation for yet another examination. Rather this was to match the new data with what was obtained during the registration exercise to establish if the same person had done the original registration.
“To our surprise, the measure revealed attempts by some of the candidates to impersonate as many of them had registered, while a different set would surface to sit the examination. Thanks to the pictures and biometrics captured during registration which revealed that what was displayed was different from what was captured at the examination venue,” he said.