Kuni Tyessi in Abuja
A grade one Area Court sitting at Aco Estate, Abuja, has convicted a Computer-Based Test (CBT) centre owner, one Ezechinoso Augustine.
A statement signed by the spokesman of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Dr Fabian Benjamin, on Sunday, said Ezechinoso, who operates a CBT centre in Onitsha, was arraigned for criminal breach of trust, concealment, registration infraction(cheating) and theft.
According to the statement: “That on 26th January, 2024 You, Mr. Ezechinoso, male of No. 28 Omonun street, Awada, Onitsha, Anambra State, signed and collected a customised and sensitive registration material from the Anambra State Office of the Board to enable you kick-start and activate the process of UTME registration.
” But instead concealed it with intention to defraud the Board, to enable you acquire a second one to complete your fraudulent activities at the CBT centre.
“You alleged also that the material you collected was not functioning. You lied and denied that you are not in possession of any for registration during interview.
“It was later strongly revealed that you actually concealed the material thereby committing the above offences.”
According to the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Olisaemeka Okeke, who was holding brief for Mr. Stanley Nafoaku, the suspect had pleaded guilty to the charge.
The defendant counsel, Pere Adge, however, pleaded that the accused was a Nigerian, who might have been prompted by the prevailing circumstances to commit the infractions without intent to cause damage or harm, and being a first-time offender, pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy.
“The presiding judge, Aliyu Kagarko, however, found the suspect guilty and ordered that he should be remanded at Nasarawa correctional centre till Thursday, 8 February, 2024, when judgement would be delivered.
” However, the case could not be heard on the scheduled date on account of unforeseen circumstances and was postponed to the following day, Friday, 9 February, 2024.
”The following day, the presiding judge found, Ezechinoso guilty on all four counts citing the criminal breach of trust, which attracted nine-month imprisonment or 30 thousand naira fine and attempt to commit the offence of cheating, which attracts a six-month imprisonment or a fine of twenty thousand naira.
” Ezechinoso was also found guilty of intent to conceal, which attracted three-month imprisonment term or the payment of a fine of N10,000 while the fourth count charge, which was theft, attracted eight months or an option of N30,000 fine, ” the statement said.
Reacting to the judgement, JAMB expressed delight over the development even as it warned would-be offenders to desist from their nefarious agenda or face the full wrath of the law.
The Board also warned of the array of technological devices at its disposal and which had enabled real-time detection of infractions.
It, therefore, warned that it would not hesitate to wield the big stick on any person or groups, no matter how highly-placed, who might wish to undermine the Board.
In another development, the Board has restated its zero tolerance for infractions of the nation’s statutes.
It stressed that, as a regulatory agency, it does not condone any form of unwholesome practice capable of bringing its hard-earned integrity to disrepute.
Consequently, it vowed to follow up the prosecution of the case of the reported violation of the data protection right of a 15-year-old candidate by an agent of a CBT centre currently before a Lagos Court and assured the parents of the girl and other concerned Nigerians involved that justice would be served accordingly.