…EFCC to arraign 15 masterminds, ready with damning forensic report
Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
After many months of sifting through piles of records and analyzing them forensically, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, appears set to release a damning report on how top officials of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, stole billions of Naira from the proceeds of electronic scratch cards they sold to candidates nationwide.
The earth-shaking report, which Sunday Vanguard sighted last night, chronicled how each of the key suspects looted the proceeds of cards sold, how they singly or in connivance with other parties, looted the proceeds and shortchanged the govern-ment in the process.
Already, the anti-graft agency has caught no fewer than 15 of the masterminds red-handed, questioned and obtained confessional statements from them.
A top official of the commission believes a solid case of stealing, breach of public trust and conspiracy has been established against the suspects, who are to be docked any moment from now.
From the document, the key suspects are those who presided over the affairs of JAMB in Edo, Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Gombe, Kano and Nasarawa states.
In Nasarawa State for instance, the state JAMB Coordinator, whose name was given as Mr. Tanko, claimed that no fewer than 24,037 out of 24,882 e-cards he collected for sale to candidates were destroyed by fire following an accident he was involved in along the Lafia-Akwanga Road, thereby left with a paltry of 845 which he sold at the rate of N1000 each and the expected revenue of N854,000 remitted to JAMB.
The suspect claimed that the expected revenue of N24,037,000 was lost to the accident and fire, which also threatened his life.
But when the cards used by JAMB candidates in the state were analyzed by investiga-tors, it was revealed that the materials corresponded with those issued by the board and actually used within the period under scrutiny.
“Contrary to the state coordinator’s submission, forensic evidence obtained from the IT Unit of JAMB showed that the said burnt cards were sold and utilized by candidates within Nasarawa State and its environs,” the EFCC said in its report.
“This forensic evidence showed the names, phone number and purpose for which the cards were used. The expected revenue of N24,037,000 from the burnt/missing cards, which were actually sold, was never remitted to JAMB.
“Further investigation revealed that 4,589 change of course cards were supplied to Nasarawa State office of which they sold 1426 at the rate of N2500 each while 3163 were unsold. The expected revenue from the sold cards was N3,365,000 and same was remitted to JAMB. However, the state coordinator claimed that the remaining 3163 cards got burnt in the same road accident. However, forensic evidence proved otherwise,” the report said.
In Benue State, the state coordinator, whose name was given as Philomena, collected a total of 124,180 cards amounting to N124,180,000 but after selling them, she merely remitted N88, 700,000 leaving a balance of over N35 million, which she never paid to JAMB.
The Benue office of JAMB under her is said to have also collected another batch of 10200 change of course cards sold at N2500 each, out of which they sold 3,210. They remitted N8.25 million leaving a balance of N1 million, making a total revenue shortfall of N36 million, which she claimed was swallowed by snakes.
“We have concrete evidence that the N36 million was never shallowed by snakes,” the investigating report said, adding that the woman is going to face trial along with the account officer in Benue office of the board.
In Kogi, one suspect, named Dan Agboh, reportedly sold over 71,000 JAMB cards and additional 5,331 change of course cards but held back N5.8 million.
In Edo State, two suspects, Ogunsola and Imoukhuede, are to account for over N26 million shortfall from both e-cards and change of course cards sold under their supervision.
The looting of JAMB cash in Plateau State, became messier as the main suspect, whose name was given as Yakubu Jaka, could not account for sales proceeds amounting to over N11 million from e-cards and another N4.5 million from the sale of change of course cards, thereby making the agency to lose over N16 million, which was discovered by investigators to have been given out as IOU.
In Gombe State, having collected and sold over 62,000 e-cards and remitted N29.7 million to JAMB, leaving a shortfall of N10.2 million revenue, the zonal coordinator later claimed that number used for the operation was forged, as he was never involved in the entire process.
More challenging is the situation in the Kano State JAMB office where the sum of N20 million cannot be accounted for after the sale of both e-cards and change of course cards.
“In a bid to cover the missing revenue, an officer in the office, deliberately printed cardboards and packaged them neatly in a carton as JAMB normally does and took them to the bank for safe-keeping. When we arrived, and were presented with the package, we asked them to open it for us to inspect the contents and we discovered that the so-called e-cards were mere cardboards,” the EFCC report detailed.
A top source in EFCC said: “What we have found out in the analysis of JAMB books shows outright looting of its resources by key officials in the past. We are going to charge these suspects to court any moment from now and this will open the eyes of Nigerians to what happens in other government agencies.
“The level of irresponsible behaviour by top officials entrusted with critical responsibilities and public funds is worrisome and something needs to be done to checkmate these elements before they commit more harm to the society,” the source said.
It will be recalled that following the remittance of an unprecedented N8 billion revenue by JAMB to the Federal Government in a year, the government decided to probe the revenues of the agency in the past years and raised a team to carry out forensic checks on the agency’s accounts.
The registrar, Professor Ishaaq Oloyede, has been driving the clean-up process since assumption of office.