BY EMMA AMAIZE
FOR some months, tongues have been wagging in Delta State University, DELSU, Abraka, over an allegation that a 400-level medical student hacked into the phone of Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who is also the Visitor to the institution, and sent a text message to the Vice Chancellor, Prof Eric Arubayi, to ensure that he obtains credits in pharmacology and pathology courses, which he failed.
The matter had been a subject of hush-hush discussions in the citadel of learning with the academic community divided on the intriguing plots that seemed to be unfolding daily. Some persons are alleging attempts to cover-up the scandal and had vowed to expose it.
What is, however, unambiguous from Sunday Vanguard’s investigation is that hackers were beginning to take more than a passing interest in the cell phones of Uduaghan.
It started with his Airtel number, some years ago. When the game was exposed, they went for one of his MTN lines. Never tired, they hacked into his email address and, now, they are back to another of his MTN lines.
In all the cases, the governor’s compromised numbers were used to send text messages. The extent of the damage caused Uduaghan by the hackers, at press time, had not been ascertained by security agents.
Contrived July, 2012, exposed January, 2013
What, however, makes the DELSU case unique is the innovation that was brought into it. The clever plot was contrived in July, 2012, but was not uncovered until January, this year, when the vice chancellor showed the text message to the governor in Asaba. But,nearly three months after the case was reported to the police, the matter was still dragging.
It started on July 24, 2012 when Arubayi received a text message from the number he saved as Uduaghan 1 in his phone. The message read: “My able VC, Chief Tony Anenih called me in respect of one boy that just wrote pathology and pharmacology exam in 400 level medicine, My able Prof, I want you to ensure the boy passes, you know I cannot afford to disappoint Chief Tony Anenih. I am in a meeting. These are the details: CHS/04/05/88406.”
Whoever sent the text message knew the vice chancellor would call the governor to verify the authenticity, so he stated unambigously, “I am in a meeting” and the use of Anenih’s name was for Arubayi to act swiftly, knowing the ranking of the Edo politician in the country and Uduaghan’s closeness to him.
Arubayi made efforts to call the governor , but to no avail. He confirmed to Sunday Vanguard that he initially believed the message was from Uduaghan. In his reply, he said, “HE (meaning His Excellency), we still need d name of d student concerned. I had wanted the details of my discussion with the provost with you sir.”
The quick reply from the other end was: “The name is (name withheld). My able VC, all I want is the boy to pass. Chief Tony Anenih has been calling.” The vice chancellor again stated, “HE, sir, I ‘ve made some contacts on d issue and need to feed u back on the progress made on the matter at your earliest convenience.”
It was clear Arubayi still did not know he was dealing with a fraudster, who replied thus: “Ok, my amiable VC, Enugu State Governor just arrived my office now, so, I will be a little busy, what is the development?”
Arubayi replied: “HE, d request came late. D College of Health Sciences Academic Board with the external examiners in attendance had met and approved d results. Suspect failed d two courses with scores of 48 and 46 in pharmacology and pathology respectively.
“When d results are submitted to me for approval, I will upgrade 48 to 50 with a resit in pathology. I ve an understanding with d provost that d resit will be conducted in two months time and that will be taken care off (sic). He will not repeat any year and will move with all his other classmates that passed to the 500 level. Sir, this is how far we have been able to handle matter.”
The provost , John Ohaju-Obodo, however, smelt a rat about a week after the affair when he received a text message, purportedly from the governor, informing him of his appointment by the government as chairman of an influential committee.
He called Uduaghan two weeks after and, providentially, he answered , but when he inquired about the appointment, the governor told him there was nothing like that. And he quickly alerted the vice chancellor to personallycontact the governor on the hacking affair.
Apparently, the author(s) of the scam thought the provost might raise dust over the examination score and so, the text message to him was another invention to divert his attention, but it backfired.
With the stunned expression on Uduaghan’s face and the way he looked at Arubayi when he read the text message, supposedly from him, for the first time, six months after, January 28, 2013, in Asaba, the vice -chancellor did not need anybody to tell him the message did not emanate from the governor.
Arubayi said, in his statement to the police, “I decided that I will not delete the messages until I have audience with the governor. This opportunity came on Monday, on 28th of January, 2013, at about 11.20 am. When I showed the text messages to the governor, he read through it with shock and surprise and denied that he ever sent such messages.
“He directed that the suspected student should be arrrested and handed over to the police for investigations and prosecution…”
‘I ‘m innocent’
The VC returned to Abraka and summoned the student who flatly denied the hacking. All the same, he was handed over to the police.
The suspect, in his statement to the police, on January 29, said he was taken from Oghara , where he went for a seminar on internal medicine, to Abraka after the provost called him out and directed that the college secretary should take him in the school bus to Abraka.
His words, “I got to the VC’s office and he called my name and I admitted. He said I should come inside. The next thing the VC said was to open his phone and read some text messages stating that he should use his power to pass me in pharmacology and pathology and that the text message is from the governor, which I don’t have idea of.”
It ‘s cyber crime- VC
Vanguard met Arubayi in his office in Abraka on Monday. He admitted receiving the text messages on July 24, 2012 and showed them to Sunday Vanguard. He spoke on how he had been careful not to delete any of the text message since the last nine months.
The vice chancellor said, “The boy knows that the governor uses capital letters when he sends me text messages and that is what he used, he must have studied the pattern and he also used the words, My amiable VC, my able VC like the governor is wont to.”
Arubayi, however, explained that it was the standard regulation in the university, once approved by the relevant authorities, based on the total performance, to round up scores between 45-49 to 50 and so, the scores of the suspect and about five other students, which fell within the bracket in pharmacology, were rounded up to 50.
In the case of pathology, he said it was not possible to round up the scores within the bracket because resit examination had already been fixed and the affected students had to resit for the course.
According to him, “No single person approves results in the university, so it is not a case of the vice chancellor did anything, the scores that were rounded up to 50 for the affected students were approved by the appropriate organs and the one that was not approved, it was also stated clearly that those affected have to go for resit.
“It is a cyber crime, this should be an EFCC issue, we are talking about somebody who hacked into the governor’s phone to commit a criminal act. We have reported the matter to the police and waiting for them to do their job.”
He said the institution, on its part, set up a disciplinary committee to look into the breach of matriculation oath by the student, but, up till Monday when Sunday Vanguard visited, the student had not appeared before the committee the three times meetings were convened. The fourth time was Tuesday, April 30.