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MISSING N35M: Witness reveals how JAMB officials offered N50,000 bribe to auditors



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It has been revealed that the chief accounting officer of the Makurdi Zonal Office of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Samuel Umoru, and a clerical officer in the same office, Mrs. Philomina Chieshe, attempted to bribe an auditor to prevent a financial audit of the zonal office.

Mr Umoru and Mrs Chieshe are first and second defendants respectively in a charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over the disappearance of JAMB’s N35 million in its Makurdi Zonal Office.

A prosecution witness, Patrick Obilo, who is also an auditor with JAMB, on Monday told Justice Peter Affen of the FCT High Court how the duo had offered a JAMB auditor, Ibrahim Oba, N50,000 as bribe.

During Obilo’s cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, he disclosed that Oba was sent to the Makurdi office of JAMB in 2016 for a routine examination of the account books and consignment notes, which showed quantities of items supplied such as e-facility cards used to check and print results, change of course card, scratch cards, question and answer cards, receipts or tellers.

A statement on Tuesday by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, quoted the witness as saying that while in Makurdi, Chieshe visited Oba’s hotel room with an envelope containing N50,000 as “gift” from her boss, Umoru, and urged him to return to Abuja.

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The auditor, according to Obilo, sensed danger and reported the situation to the head of JAMB’s Audit Unit, James Ochijele, in Abuja, who ordered that the N50,000 be paid into the board’s account.

Ochijele had to replace Oba with Obilo for the same assignment in the Makurdi office.

While examining the account books in the Makurdi Office, Obilo said he discovered a shortfall in the proceeds from the sales of e-facility cards and change of course forms to the tune of N35.4m which was not remitted to the board’s account.

“Asked for an explanation, Chieshe began to cry as she gave all manners of justifications for the disappearance of the money, including a tale that a mystery snake had been swallowing the money in Umoru’s office, even as it was kept in a safe,” the statement said,

“In another incredible story, she claimed that a mermaid appeared to her in her bedroom to attack her at various times and that her housemaid is a witch.”

The trial judge adjourned the matter to January 21, 2020, for the continuation of trial.

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