In 2008, Sulaiman Ismail, now 23, was one of about 200 candidates that Ogudu Senior Grammar School, Ogudu, GRA, Ojota, Lagos, presented for the May/June Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC). When the examination body released the results in September same year, the candidate, with examination number 4251410254 was one of the few who recorded average performance.
Details of his results are as follows: English Language- C6; Mathematics- B2; Agricultural Science- B3; Biology- C5; Chemistry- C4; Physics- C4; Economics- D7; Geography-D7 while absent was recorded against Government. In 2009, Ismail wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) conducted by Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and scored 213. He later scored 80 per cent in the Post-UTME conducted by the University of Ilorin in Kwara State, his preferred university, where he was eventually admitted to study Computer Science.
He is not only four years into his studies, he is already preparing for his graduation when the unexpected happens.
As part of the prerequisites for graduation, he appeared at relevant university’s departments for clearance. At the Examination and Records Department, he was asked to prove the authenticity of the SSCE result he earlier presented and upon which he was offered admission. Innocently, Ismail supplied the detailed information to verify the ownership and that was when he received the shocker of his life.
“We logged on to WAEC’s website and rather than displaying my grades against each subject that I registered, all I could see was “cancelled” against every subject except Government which I did not write and they put ABS, which means absent. And it was like a dream to me at that point and even till now,” Ismail explained.
In his confused state, Ismail, a First Class material with current Cumulative Gradient Point (GPA) of 4.64, left Ilorin for Lagos on Thursday, February 14, and headed straight to his school to enquire about the situation. “When I got to the school, I met the new principal, Mr. Benedict and his deputy, Mrs. Adeniran, who told me they were also shocked to receive the news from some of my mates with similar experience.
When I probed further, I was only directed to the father of one of my mates, who they claimed had better information on the matter,” the astonished student narrated further. He went to meet his mate’s father, Mr. Owoyemi Moses, who told him that his son, Oluwatosin Owoyemi, was also affected by the development. But unlike Ismail, the boy was in 200-level at Ekiti State University (EKSU), Ado-Ekiti when he discovered there was a problem with his WAEC result.
Oluwatosin wasn’t at home when National Mirror visited, but his father said the trouble started in April 2012 when his son was processing his course registration as a 200-level student and discovered that his results earlier released by WAEC had been cancelled.
“The boy was weeping when he told me and I could not believe my ears because he had checked same result on WAEC website and printed it four years earlier. We also got a statement of result from the school and the portion of a copy of the master sheet from WAEC that contains his details. So, how come almost four years after that he went online again to discover that, his results had been cancelled? “I pacified him and asked him to return to Lagos so that we could find out what was amiss. When we got to the school, I was surprised that they were not even aware of the development.
We were only told that the students had been coming for their certificates and that they had written officially to WAEC to know why the certificates were yet to be released three years after exam,” Owoyemi narrated. One of the school teachers, simply identified as Mr. Solanke, volunteered to follow Oluwatosin and his father to Ikorodu office of WAEC, which controls Ojodu area. There, they met with the officer in charge, Mr. Olu Adekeye.
A letter of complaint had earlier been sent to the office by the school. But surprisingly, the officer in charge told us he had no knowledge of any letter from the school concerning the matter and addressed to his office.
At that point, he got to know that the letter was received by a subordinate, Mr. Okonkwo, who never passed it to the relevant office for action,” Owoyemi alleged.
The matter later took the complainants to the Ikeja office of WAEC, from where the officer in charge of the office, simply identified as Mrs. Agwu wrote officially to the Nigeria’s head office of the council at Yaba for action.
While these were on, the school claimed it had informed the affected students that WAEC had responded to letter sent earlier and that the council complained of having problem in embossing on their certificates what they called blur photographs they provided during registration and that it would need replacements.
“We even submitted new passport photographs, which were also burnt on a compact disc by the school and submitted to WAEC through its Ikorodu area office,” Oluwatosin told National Mirror on phone, adding: “That was done January last year.” Some of the affected students did not limit the struggle to the WAEC office.
In May 2012 for instance, Mr. Owoyemi took the matter before the state’s Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, when he waited endlessly to see the positive action from both WAEC and the school. Since then, many other affected students have come to the school to lodge similar complaint.
One of them, who is the senior prefect of his set and now a 500- level mechanical engineering student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Adesanya Zacheous Taiwo, is also unsettled as his fate remains hanging in the balance. Taiwo is due to graduate this year but if the matter is not resolved, the entire five years as an undergraduate may become a waste.
The same fate may befall Akinola Nofisat Bukola, a final year student of the Department of Computer Science, Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, who is also stunned and has joined forces with her mates to seek remedy.
Now, considering the money and time he had expended on the matter and with no headway in sight, Owoyemi, on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, approached his lawyer, Mr. J.O. Oladeji of Leke Oladeji and Company, who wrote the exam body’s registrar in a letter he titled: 2008 May/June Senior Secondary Certificate of Owoyemi Tosin Examination No- 4251410/230. In the said letter, the solicitor requested to be furnished with reasons why his client’s result was cancelled within a 14-day ultimatum.
“But till date, we have received no response from WAEC and the only option left for us now is to take our case before the public and possibly to court.” To approach the matter from different perspectives, Mr. Owoyemi visited the Yaba office of WAEC just last week, where he met with the body’s Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Yusuff Ari. Ari advised that a fresh letter of complaint should be written and addressed to the registrar of the council.
A copy of the letter made available to National Mirror and entitled: ‘Appeal for reconsideration of result’, 19 sought the understanding of WAEC to review the situation and feed the candidates with relevant information on the issue.
However, some of the affected students, who gathered at the secondary school compound last Saturday, including Sanni Muhammed, another final year student in a college in Saudi Arabia, and Ali Saheed, resolved at storming the ministry of education latest next week to demand for its urgent and proactive intervention.
When National Mirror approached WAEC, Mr. Ari said the exam body later found out that a case of “serious” malpractice was reported against the school, and that WAEC decided to cancel the results after proper investigations were carried out.
“Their case is very complex and unusual. But the public should know that WAEC is a very meticulous institution that does not joke with the life of its candidates. When the school wrote to know the cause of the development, the council replied by informing the school that the affected students were involved in examination malpractice.
That is the information at my disposal. And I should add that WAEC has every right to cancel any result at any stage it discovers any irregularity,” Ari told National Mirror. However, the questions being asked by the candidates are that: ‘At what stage did WAEC get know of the malpractice allegation?
What is the particular offence committed? Who are the particular individuals found guilty of the crime? What are the evidences against them? Was there no need for fair hearing before the “damning” verdict?
According to Ismail, as far as he was concerned, there was no case of examination malpractice against him during the exam and that if he had not committed any crime, why should he be punished?
Until WAEC responds to these probing questions, the students’ fate will remain unknown and the situation may create more problems not only for the students but also the country at large. It is understandable that some other students of the set were in higher institutions of learning in South Africa, Europe and Asia pursuing one course or another.
But will the current situation not subject WAEC’s integrity to question among the comity of nations?Source: National Mirror Newspaper