By Doosuur Iwambe,Abuja
The federal government has said that it has put in place effective checks against incidents of identity theft in the admission process into tertiary institutions in the country.
Speaking while addressing journalists in Abuja on Friday, the Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof Ishaq Oloyede said, the government, through the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu issued a directive, mandating JAMB to transfer candidates’ biometric data to their institutions of choice.
This he said was to put an end to fresh capturing of biometrics and pictures of candidates for post-UTME tests.
Oloyede said that Adamu’s directive has already uncovered 657 cases of candidates, whose photographs could not match the ones recorded in JAMB’s database and were currently angling to change the photographs.
He said that the board has referred those who requested for change of photographs to come down to its headquarters, with the intention of bringing perpetrators of fraud to book.
He said, “in previous admission exercises, certain candidates who appear in the institution for registration were different from those who actually sit the examination.
This was possible because the institutions were taking fresh pictures and biometrics thereby making it possible for impersonators to have a field day to ply their trade.
“In the last exercise, we insisted, as directed by the Minister of Education, that all institutions should use the already captured biometrics and pictures by the Board.
This made it impossible for the candidates whose examinations were taken on their behalf by professional examination takers to gain admissions.
He added that impersonation and other forms of identity theft during the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, UTME, dropped from 74,000 in 2019 to 4,900 in 2020.
The JAMB boss while admitting that the 4900 cases were still high and questionable, said the drastic reduction was triggered by a process introduced by the board which allows officials to take a snapshot of any candidate who claims he could not be biometrically verified, and compare with the picture in JAMB’s database.
“Last year, one of the steps we took was that if somebody comes to be verified for examination and he is not verified biometrically, we will ask that the candidate or the person who appears to write the exam should take a new picture and take fresh biometrics of the candidate.
“Many of the candidates were under the impression that that was an indication that we would ask them to sit for another examination; that a make-up would be made for them as usual.
But you would recall that last year we had over 70,000 candidates in that category. But that has been reduced to 4,900 this year.
“When candidates who are impersonating were asked to subject themselves to another round of picture-taking and biometric capturing, many people had erroneously thought that was a preparation for yet another examination.
Rather this was to match the new data with what was obtained during the registration exercise to establish if the same person had done the original registration”, he added.