The senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the Senate, Shehu Sani, on Tuesday stormed the headquarters of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board in Bwari, Federal Capital Territory, with snake charmers.
The senator also seized the opportunity to present JAMB with snake repellant chemicals.
Sani said the visit was to enable stakeholders to get to the bottom of the issues surrounding the reported case of missing N36m from the JAMB office in Makurdi, Benue State.
One Philomena Chieshe, a sales clerk in the JAMB office, Makurdi, told the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, and his team that she could not account for the N36m she made in previous years before the abolition of scratch cards.
“In the course of interrogation, Philomena denied the allegations that she stole the money, but confessed that her housemaid connived with another JAMB worker to spiritually (through a snake) steal the money from the vault in the account office,” the report said.
Sani said his visit to JAMB was in response to the story that a snake swallowed N36m.
He lamented that such a huge sum of money was reported to have been swallowed by a snake.
The senator said, “I believe that the contribution I can make is to bring snake charmers from my constituency to the JAMB office and to help them fish out the snake and weed out snakes from its premises.”
Sani added that if a snake could actually swallow N36m, one day, Nigerians might wake up to say that a snake had swallowed the country’s foreign reserve.
“Even if it is a spiritual matter, we believe that these people I brought are some of the best snake charmers in the country and they will help in arresting both physical and spiritual snakes if there has been any in the JAMB office.”
He explained that it was very clear the incident did not happen during the tenure of Oloyede.
“We are very proud of him. We believe he is someone who should continue to run this agency.
“It is good for Nigerians to know this is what happened before he came into office. I believe the best thing we can do is to continue to support him.
“It is time Nigerians know that there may be other dirty things happening in other places, but this place has exposed it for us. We know the truth and I’m very happy about that,” he added.
Sani presented snake repellants and chemicals to the board.
Responding, the spokesperson for JAMB, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, explained that on assumption of duty, Oloyede discovered that there were loopholes in the sale of scratch cards.
“We discovered a lot of loopholes. The registrar thereafter introduced PIN vending. After introducing the PIN vending, it was natural for him to call for an audit of the former use of scratch cards.
“After taking stock, it was discovered that in some offices, they could not account for what they sold. Ms Philomena Chieshe was entrusted with a number of scratch cards which she sold, but N36m could not be accounted for.
“When asked, she actually said she sold them at the said amount, and kept the money in the public vault. According to her, a snake swallowed the money.”
Benjamin further explained that in the spirit of transparency, inclusiveness, and openness, the agency felt that Nigerians should know what was happening.
He said Chieshe had been queried and has also appeared before a disciplinary committee.
“A report had been put together and sent to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu. As soon as that report is approved, she will be disciplined and handed over to the appropriate security agency for proper profiling.”
Meanwhile, another worker of the agency is being quizzed for N26m suspected fraud.
Our correspondent learnt on Tuesday from an authoritative source in JAMB that the worker, Labaran Tanko, from the Nasarawa State office, claimed that unsold scratch cards, worth N26m, got burnt in his car after he was involved in an accident while going to the Abuja headquarters office of JAMB.
“His name is Labaran Tanko. He works at our Nasarawa State office. The money from the unsold scratch cards runs to N26m. He is also being quizzed,” the source said.
It was gathered that the suspected N26m fraud was discovered during Oloyede and a team of auditors’ visit to the Nasarawa State office. The worker, Tanko, is said to be currently under investigation.
The JAMB spokesperson, who confirmed the N26m fraud in the Nasarawa State office, said on Tuesday that the board would bring to book “any of our officers or stakeholders caught in activities not in line with the board’s policies.”
Benjamin said, “A number of persons have been discovered to have misappropriated funds belonging to the board and the one at hand in Benue currently is one of such numerous cases. Another one was uncovered by the Is-haq Oloyede management-led team which has to do with a state officer who could not account for money realised from the sales of similar scratch cards.
“He claimed that while he was on his way to Abuja from his state office to return the unsold scratch cards, he was involved in a car crash and the car was burnt with the cards along with. The worth of the scratch cards is N26m. The board will monitor with careful scrutiny, how workers handle government funds, as well as block all leakages and loop holes.”