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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Lessons from Mmesoma’s UTME forgery scandal

Within the vibrant landscape of Nigeria’s educational system, a young girl’s journey shines a light on the consequences of deception and the powerful lessons that emerge when truth triumphs over illusion.

With the click of a mouse, the story begins. A 16-year-old girl, driven by a thirst for recognition, achieves an extraordinary feat: claiming the title of Nigeria’s highest scorer in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), an accomplishment that promises boundless opportunities. Yet, beneath the surface of this triumphant tale lies a hidden truth.

19-year-old Ejikeme Mmesoma, a student of Anglican Girls Secondary School (AGSS) Nnewi had claimed that she scored 362 in the 2023 UTME examination. The result being paraded by her shows that she scored 98 in English Language, 89 in Physics, 94 in Biology and 81 in Chemistry, totalling 362 of the 400 marks obtainable

This acclaimed feat had earned her accolades from Nigerians, including the government of Anambra State. In fact, the founder of Innoson Vehicles, Innocent Chukwuma, promised her a N3m scholarship in recognition of the brilliant result.

As the story of her acclaimed achievement spreads, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) raised an alarm on Mmesoma’s result, insisting that it is patently fake because it has been doctored.

In the midst of this tumultuous storm, Mmesoma defiantly presented a video, vehemently denying the accusations and insisting that her purported score was genuine. Her viral video raised emotions and reactions from different quarters, as some felt she could be saying the truth, as such, JAMB’s system and excesses should be checked while some viewed the hullabaloo as an ethnic attack.

However, JAMB’s unrelenting investigation shattered the illusions, revealing that Mmesoma herself had manipulated her results. The Board’s Head of Public Affairs and Protocol, Fabian Benjamin discloseded that the candidate actually got 249 in the exam and not 362 as widely assumed but simply falsified a copy of result slip of a candidate named Asimiyu Mariam Omobolanle, who sat the UTME in 2021 and scored 138.

He also made known that the Board had since stopped issuing Notification of Result slips after the 2021 UTME because candidates were falsifying them. Instead, the Board has been issuing actual UTME RESULT Slips since 2022 with the photograph of each candidate.

Amid the controversy, the exam body withdrew Mmesoma’s result and suspended her from partaking in UTME for the next three years.

Mmesoma’s printed UTME result

Also, in the quest to unravel the truth, the Anambra State Governor, Chukwuma Soludo set up an eight-man panel to investigate the alleged forgery of UTME result by Mmesoma.

The former Minister of Aviation and owner of centre where Mmesoma sat her exam, Osita Chidoka revealed that he became suspicious immediately he saw her result due to some ‘discrepancies’.

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With no escape from the web she had woven, Mmesoma finally confessed, bringing the facade crashing down.

According to the panel set up by the Anambra state government, Mmesoma admitted to having manipulated the result by herself unaided, using her Airtel phone number and also confessed in the presence of her principal, and the Education Secretary that the narration by JAMB officials was the true description of what transpired.

Though Mmesoma and her father had appealed to JAMB to pardon her actions but the panel in its recommendations, asked her to write an apology to JAMB; her school, Anglican Girls’ Secondary School, Uruagu Nnewi; and the Anambra State Government.

It further recommended that she should undergo psychological counselling and therapy. Innoson Vehicles also withdrew the N3m scholarship it earlier promised her.

Lessons learnt
There are a number of lessons that we can glean from Mmesoma’s twists and turns.

Value of education and personal growth: Education should be cherished for its intrinsic value, fostering personal growth, and enabling positive contributions to society. This incident underscores the significance of pursuing education honestly and diligently, rather than seeking external validation through fraudulent means.

Honesty and Integrity: Mmesoma’s situation underscores the critical importance of honesty and integrity in academic endeavours. Falsifying results, as she did, can lead to severe consequences.

Consequences of unethical actions: This scenario serves as a stark reminder of the severe repercussions of engaging in unethical behaviour. Mmesoma faced withdrawal of her result, a three-year ban from JAMB and the loss of her scholarship, demonstrating the gravity of result forgery.

Verification and fact-checking: The incident emphasizes the importance of diligently verifying information before accepting it as true. JAMB’s investigation and the subsequent confirmation of result manipulation highlight the necessity of fact-checking and ensuring the accuracy of claims.

Importance of thorough vetting by companies/organisations: It is crucial for companies offering scholarships to verify the academic records of applicants. This can involve cross-checking with relevant educational institutions or examination boards to ensure the accuracy of the provided results before awarding scholarships or any form of financial assistance. This should serve as a lesson for the company to learn from their oversight and avoid repeating similar mistakes in the future.

Accountability and responsibility: Mmesoma’s eventual confession highlight the significance of being accountable for one’s actions. Accepting responsibility and admitting to wrongdoing are essential steps towards personal growth and learning from mistakes.

Fairness and consistency in disciplinary actions: JAMB’s decision to impose a three-year ban on the girl reflects the need for fairness and consistency in disciplinary actions. It is crucial for educational institutions to enforce penalties for academic misconduct consistently, thereby upholding the integrity of the education system.

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Ethical considerations over ethnic sentiments: Injecting ethnic sentiments into the situation detracts from the main issue of academic dishonesty. It is important to focus on ethical considerations and avoid allowing unrelated factors like ethnicity to influence judgment or discussions.

Promoting unity and understanding: Instead of perpetuating division, it is important to foster unity and understanding among diverse communities. Encouraging open dialogue, empathy, and respect for different perspectives can help bridge ethnic divides and promote a more inclusive society.

Apology and restitution: The committee’s recommendation for the girl to offer an unreserved written apology to JAMB, her school, and the Anambra State Government emphasizes the significance of acknowledging the harm caused by her actions and making amends. It underscores the importance of taking responsibility, seeking reconciliation, and learning from the consequences of one’s behaviour.

Rehabilitation and counselling: The committee’s recommendation for psychological counselling and therapy recognizes the need for rehabilitation and support for the girl involved. It underscores the importance of addressing underlying issues and providing appropriate guidance to help individuals learn from their mistakes and reintegrate into society positively.

Learn from mistakes and be agents of change: It is important for young Nigerians to recognize that mistakes are a part of life’s journey. When they do falter, they should take responsibility for their actions, learn from their mistakes, and use those experiences as opportunities for growth and self-improvement.

Note that you possess the potential to bring about positive change in society. By advocating for ethical practices, challenging the status quo, and championing truth and integrity, you can contribute to a nation where honesty prevails, leading to a more prosperous and harmonious future.

Christiana Alabi-Akande
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