Sunday Aborisade in Abuja
The Senate on Wednesday set up a panel to investigate allegations of admission racketeering in tertiary institutions across the country.
This is sequel to a motion by Senator Onyeka Nwebonyi (Ebonyi North) at plenary.
Nwebonyi alleged that staff of tertiary institutions conspired with officials of the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) to carry out the unwholesome practices for financial gains.
JAMB is a statutory body charged with conducting the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for admission to all Nigerian universities, polytechnics, colleges of education and other tertiary institutions.
The Senate therefore directed its Committees on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, as well as Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to probe the allegation of admission fraud in tertiary institutions.
Nwebonyi said authorities of tertiary institutions, in cahoots with some JAMB officials, have reverted to the practice of provisional admissions into prized professional courses like Medicine and Surgery, Pharmacy, Law, Engineering, Nursing Science, with a view to shortchanging some students already offered admission in exchange for gratification.
He said: “The travails of one Miss Chinyere Ekwe and 290 others who were admitted to study Medicine and Surgery at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) but had their admissions truncated on the order of JAMB for no plausible reason, after they had completed the admission processes and resumed lectures.
“Miss Ekwe, in particular, scored 291 in the 2019 UTME and 300 in the university’s post UTME, which qualified her for the course and was subsequently admitted by the university.
“The said Chinyere Ekwe was transferred to the Department of Medical Laboratory Science on the ground that if her cumulative grade point is up to 4.5 points after the first year, she would be transferred back to Medicine and Surgery.
“However, despite the fact that she surpassed the 4.5 threshold, her admission status is still not yet certain as to whether she is duly admitted in the Department of Medicine and Surgery or Medical Laboratory Science.
“The provisional admission practice is being used as a malicious tool to exploit and frustrate intelligent young Nigerians who are children and wards of ordinary people who seek admission into Nigerian universities.”
Such unwholesome practices, he added, put the country’s educational system in jeopardy and cause apathy on the side of ordinary Nigerians.
Senate President Godswill Akpabio, in his remarks, stressed the need to give fair hearing to the accused parties, saying JAMB and UNN were known to be a reputable institutions.
He said: “We are shaving the head of a man behind his back. The University of Nigeria has a reputation that spans decades and respected internationally. And JAMB has its own reputation.
“So discussing and particularising it could tend to give the international community that something is questionable about the certificate from University of Nigeria which we all respect. It has given birth to so many universities including the one I went to which is the University of Calabar.
“Let the other side be heard, so that we can do a holistic job and even invite the Minister of Education to find out whether this kind of practice is occuring in the tertiary institutions. So let us do a holistic job. I think it is important we correct any wrong that we see.”