“My name is Mr John Animashahun, a librarian in Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS), and I can help you secure admission to study Law in the institution through the influence of Mr Danjuma Ismail, the admission officer of UDUS,” said the scammer, while speaking with this reporter who presented himself as a UDUS applicant who has been attempting to gain admission into the school for four years.
Meanwhile, contrary to Animashahun’s claim, findings later showed that the name of the institution’s admission officer is not Danjuma Ismail, but Mallam Shehu Abubakar.
The desperation of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) candidates to gain admission into Nigerian tertiary institutions or finding a means to get a professional course with low UTME scores has pushed some of them into the hands of swindlers.
Victims share their ordeals
Zainab Abdulazeez narrated how she paid N30,000 to one Shehu (last name withheld) who explained to her that he would help her get admission into UDUS. She had applied for Biochemistry with 206 as her UTME score.
She applied for Pharmacy in 2017 but was offered Primary Education. The following year, as an undergraduate, she obtained another JAMB form hoping to get a different offer. She added that she met one PhD student who assured her that he had an uncle who could work on her admission.
She then paid him N30,000, which she had kept for her accommodation and tuition fees. But when the admission list was released, her name was nowhere to be found.
“I was depressed. I had to sell some of my foodstuff to pay my school fees. When I saw him on campus, he pretended as if he didn’t know me,” she lamented.
This reporter found that Shehu was a spillover undergraduate student and was not enrolled in a PhD programme at UDUS as claimed.
Another victim, Oluwadamilare Ayomide, recalled how he was duped by a man who pretended to be a woman named Juliet Ken Uche on Facebook and also impersonated a JAMB official who was in charge of admission.
Ayomide applied for Microbiology, also at UDUS, with a JAMB score of 194 and the man demanded the sum of N10,000. He later accepted N5,000 but proceeded to block him on the social media platform immediately the money was transferred.
“I did that out of frustration because I have been seeking admission for the last four years,” Ayomide sobbed.
Joseph Samson also recounted how he received a call from one scammer in 2019 who pretended to be a school registrar. He lied to him that he was going to the JAMB headquarters in Abuja with the list of the successful applicants at UDUS and everyone on the list was required to pay N3,000 for screening so the school could use the money to buy data to upload their names on the JAMB portal. Failure to pay, he warned, would lead to the removal of his name from the admission list.
The victim did not believe him, but he was convinced after he called his full name and institution. The man insisted he should send N3,000 but blocked Ayomide’s line after the money was sent.
This report confirmed that the scammer’s number was registered on Trucaller —a caller identification app— as ‘UDUS Registrar.’
Reports from others indicate that this practice is not restricted only to Usmanu Danfodiyo University and victims sometimes paid as high as N50,000 in vain.
Reporter’s experience with fake officials
Pretending to be a desperate JAMB candidate who had been struggling to gain admission, this reporter approached individuals who claimed they could help for a fee.
The first fraudster introduced himself as Mr Akin and said he was a JAMB official who could guarantee admission into the reporter’s choice institution upon the payment of N20,000.
When he was asked to show a copy of his JAMB ID card, he replied that he could not share it with me because it was private.
“I will send your details to the admission office and it would [sic] come out in the first list,” he promised.
Speaking with the second fraudster, Mr Isiaq Idris, I presented myself as a candidate with a score of 200 who was applying to study Law at UDUS. Though he admitted the UTME score was too low, he insisted he could get me into the school’s merit admission list. Idris had said he worked as a secretary at the university’s bursary department.
He said he knew the admission officer but became infuriated when asked for his name.
“You think this is how to chat with someone because you are in doubt. Do you think if someone wants to get the registrar’s name, he won’t get it on google? What’s all this? If you don’t want my help, tell me, I don’t tolerate nonsense,” he said angrily.
“Mr Danjuma Ismail is the name of [the] UDUS admission officer,” he added.
Another swindler who introduced himself as John Animashaun said he was a librarian who could get the admissions officer to help this reporter get into the Law faculty. “This is the tenth year that I have been in this school [UDUS]. We are presently working on the cut-off mark,” he lied during a phone conversation.
Yet, another fraudster assured this reporter he could get him admitted into the University of Ilorin’s Law programme with a UTME score of 185 after the payment of N30,000. Meanwhile, the school’s policy only permits the consideration of candidates who scored above 199 in the examination.
Violation of law
Nigeria’s Criminal Code prohibits fraud under section 419, stating that “any person who by any false pretence, and with intent to defraud, obtains from any other person anything capable of being stolen… is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for three years.”
Confirming the position of the law, Deputy Force Public Relations Officer at the Nigeria Police headquarters, Adeniran Aremu, said perpetrators would surely face the wrath of the law if reported.
“If there’s any report of such, we will definitely follow it up and when they are arrested, we will take it up. So many of them have been arrested and they have been dealt with. Most of them have been prosecuted so that it can serve as a deterrent to others who have the same intention,” he said.
When contacted, UDUS admission officer Mallam Shehu Abubakar told this reporter he was not aware of the illegal practice, adding that the school would never collect money to offer admission.
“Whoever wants information about the school, he should go to [the] university portal because the school can never ask for any money and all that they are saying is not true at all,” he advised.
Experts weighs in
Abdulganeey Ayodeji Salahu, a professor of Guidance and Counselling at UDUS, says everyone knows what the right thing is, and the UTME candidates themselves, in their desperation, are those giving the scammers an opportunity to dupe them.
“If you don’t have what is required to enter the university, why can’t you take a better option instead of giving somebody money thinking they will help you?” he asked. “The moment you do that, you caused the problem for yourself.”
JAMB spokesman, Dr Fabian Benjamin, agrees with Prof. Salahu, that the desperation of candidates is blameworthy, noting that the process of admission is transparent such that actual JAMB employees cannot hack it.
As the Public Relations Officer, even he does not have the power to offer his son admission if he fails to meet the minimum requirements, he said.
He added that some of the victims are qualified, but they would think those swindlers helped them to gain admission; and if they are not qualified, the swindlers will keep deceiving them till all the admission lists are released.
“When Prof. Oloyede came on board, the whole system was that we have what we call print out. For example, all the candidates that have chosen UDUS will be printed and be given to UDUS and the list will be organised in an order of ranking based on UTME scores,” he explained.
“We have what we call [an] admission board, and each institution has a desk officer who liaises with the admission officer of the institution to ensure that the man is doing the right thing. He is like the police of the institution and ensures that they give admission the way they are supposed to be given it without any cheating.”
He admonished JAMB candidates to work hard to meet their desired programmes’ requirements or to seek legitimate alternatives if they are unable to do so.