The long drawn saga concerning the result of Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme, the Anambra student who was accused of manually inflating her 2023 University Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, result by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, appears to have finally been laid to rest, with Mmesoma, Wednesday admitting that she actually scored 249, instead of 362 she earlier claimed.
It will be recalled that Mmesoma’s earlier claim of scoring 362 which made her the highest scorer in the examination, had caused a great stir across the country, with the examination body dismissing her claim, while Mmesoma stuck to hers.
Before then she had been given a handsome N3m scholarship by Chief Innocent Chukwuma of the INNOSON Motors fame on account of her feat, while the Anambra State Government was on the verge of honouring her, report Jude Atupulazi and Ikeugonna Eleke.
But developing twists began to weaken Mmesoma’s claim, though the Anambra State Government distanced itself from the JAMB position; just as opinions remained divided among Nigerians. Some even saw it through the lens of ethnicity and accused the examination body, which barred the girl from sitting for JAMB for three years, of taking the action because of where Mmesoma hailed from.
But on Wednesday, Mmesoma herself finally confirmed that she received an automated text message from JAMB indicating that her score was 249.
She made this known during an interview with Sunrise Daily on Channels Television which was monitored by newsmen.
JAMB’s spokesman, Fabian Benjamin, had earlier revealed that the candidate sent a series of messages to the board’s automated telecoms system, including the results showing an aggregate of 362.
Responding, Mmesoma said the only SMS she sent to JAMB was through its support system, insisting it was the only SMS she sent there.
Asked if she got any feedback, she said they did not reply. According to her, ‘If they check their JAMB Support System, they would see that I sent a text message. They didn’t reply.’
On the claim that she used an Airtel line, Mmesoma replied that she did but added that it was not through USSD code.
‘The one I checked through the USSD code is the one of 362 that I saw,’ she explained further.
Responding to the claim that the feedback from JAMB showed her score as 249, she affirmed the fact.
Her words, ‘Yes. After all was said and done, I now saw that I got 249. I sent them a text message through the JAMB support system to know what really happened. If they go to their system, they will see it there.’
It was not clear as at press time what the fate of Mmesoma would be following her admission, although JAMB had said it would sanction her.
Before then Fides had visited Mmesoma’s school, Anglican Girls’ Secondary School (AGSS), Nnewi, Anambra State, owned by the Nnewi Diocese of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, where there were indications that the Nnewi Diocese of Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, had taken over the matter concerning Miss Mmesoma Ejikeme, amid allegations of forgery of JAMB result.
Her principal, Mrs Uchechukwu Edum, had expressed surprise at the development, noting, however, that the school was awaiting the report of the investigation on the matter by the Directorate of State Services, DSS.
A source within the school told Fides during an investigative visit that both the principal and the student had been restricted from speaking on the matter.
When Fides visited the school, Tuesday, to speak with the principal, who had earlier agreed to an interview during a phone conversation, she said she was no longer ready to speak. The school also refused to have journalists speak to the student, Miss Ejikeme.
Though both the student and principal were out of school during the period of the visit, the principal said she was at the bishop’s office, but rejected pleas to honour the interview there.
A source within the school said they were invited to the bishop’s office by the Education Secretary of the diocese, Venerable Henry Nduka.
‘We have strict instructions not to speak to anyone. You can go to the bishop’s office and see the principal, but I’m sure she will not speak. The girl is also not permitted to talk to you,’ Fides was told.
But the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nnewi Diocese, seemed to have corroborated this. It stated that it would make its position known on the matter against her student the next day, Wednesday.
When Fides approached the Education Secretary of the Diocese, Venerable Henry Nduka, he said the matter was already with the DSS and that they were investigating it. He described it as a serious matter which the diocese was also very serious about.
‘We are under the authority of the Bishop and we have said we will not speak about this today. We will speak tomorrow (Wednesday), and it is what the Bishop said we should do that we will do. We are not preempting what we have to say. We will not talk about it today.
‘We have a Diocesan Chancellor who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and we have taken a stand on this. So we are inviting you to come tomorrow and we will tell you our stand on this and everything you wish to know.
‘I’m the Education Secretary of the Diocese, my colleague here is the Admin Secretary and the Synod Secretary too. We will give you the full cooperation you desire tomorrow (Wednesday).’
Meanwhile, the father of the student in the centre of the controversy, Mr Romanus Ejikeme, who hosted Fides in his house, had said he had no doubt about the matter. ‘I’m sure my daughter did not forge the result and we are ready to go to any length.
‘I only feel bad that after what my daughter has gone through reading for the exams, she is being denied her legitimate score.
‘Since this allegation of my daughter forging her JAMB result broke, both my wife and my daughter have been feeling very sad. My wife is unhappy about this, and my daughter too is traumatized, just like her mother.We want a diligent investigation into this matter,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the principal of Anglican Girls’ Secondary School, Nnewi, had said the school was surprised at the announcement.
The principal who spoke to Fides on the phone, said the controversy over the score was not new to her, but that the school was still awaiting the outcome of a detailed investigation by the Department of State Services (DSS), when the news of the alleged forgery broke on Sunday.
When Fides asked Mrs Edum what she knew about Miss Ejikeme’s result which showed she had 362, she stated that she and the student had been at the DSS to make statements, and were waiting for investigation. She said she was surprised that no one heard from them, only for JAMB to make an announcement discrediting their student.
She said, ‘What I can tell you is that we were in school when they (students) were scratching and checking their results.
‘The first person had 295, another person had 265, and so on. We were still on it when Mmesoma came and brought her own result and it was 362. We requested that she bring evidence and when she did, we rejoiced with her.
‘So, later, we heard that there was someone (from another school) who got 360, and that she was the highest, so we had to call the Education Secretary in the Diocese. Our school is a mission school, so we decided there was need to reach out to the Commissioner on this. So the Commissioner called JAMB and they said there was no such thing, and that was confusion number one.
‘Later, the DSS got involved in the matter and I had to go there to make a statement, and I told them just the same thing I told you now about the checking of the results. The girl (Mmesoma) also wrote a statement about how she checked her result and the DSS said they would investigate the matter to know where the discrepancies lie, and that was all that I heard.
‘So, while we were waiting for the investigation, we did not see anything, and yesterday (last Monday), we now saw JAMB’s press release. I want to make efforts to go to the girl’s house now. You know today is Monday, and there is no movement, but we will go to her house later today to know if there are other things she can tell us.
‘You also know that our SS3 set are not in school now; they were given a break to go home and return by next week for NECO, but going by the way the matter is now, we may not wait until when they return.’
Meanwhile, the CEO of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing (IVM), Chief Innocent Chukwuma had revealed that he would do all that was necessary to protect Miss Ejikeme from undue intimidation.
Chukwuma who had earlier awarded a N3million Scholarship to Miss Ejikeme, said he would ensure that he saw the end of the matter.
He revealed to journalists in a telephone conversation that he would be sending a letter to JAMB last Tuesday, to ensure a detailed investigation of the matter.
When Fides spoke with Chukwuma again last Wednesday morning to comment on new developments on the matter, he still insisted on the conduct of proper investigations, even as he said he would still give the girl a scholarship in the event that she no longer had 362, so long as it was proved she did not cheat.
Chukwuma however said he would not hesitate to withdraw the scholarship if it was proved that Mmesoma cheated, noting that he would never stand for any form of cheating. He however expressed doubts that such a young girl could have done what JAMB was alleging.
He also said he offered to give her a scholarship as a form of encouragement when he heard about her score after calling the principal of her school to authenticate it.
The Mmesomma result saga was the biggest trending news in every media platform since it broke to the extent that it became difficult to keep track. Last Tuesday, JAMB insisted that her result was fake despite a video clip showing where Mmesoma claimed her result was authentic.
But Mmesoma’s U-turn on her claim of having 362 may have put paid to further arguments and the consequences may be dire for her. Already barred from taking JAMB for the next three years, it is certain that the scholarship given her by INNOSON will be withdrawn, given that she lied. What follows next will be anyone’s guess.
As it is now, the candidate with the highest score remains Miss Nkechinere Umeh, also from Anambra State. She scored 360.