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Kogi Govt uncovers fraud to inflate student population for free WAEC registration

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The Kogi State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has uncovered a plot by some school principals to admit ghost students to benefit from the free WAEC fee initiated by Governor Yahaya Bello.

Pmnews.ng recalls that Governor Yahaya Bello, in November 2023, approved the disbursement of N497 million for the payment of the 2023 WAEC examination fees for students enrolled in the state’s public schools.

Addressing a press conference in Lokoja on Thursday, the Kogi State Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, Wemi Jones, lamented that some disgruntled elements hiding under the guise of principals were trying to sabotage the good intentions of the state government for their selfish interests.

The commissioner, who informed journalists that any sharp practices to enrol ghost students would not stand, said the ministry had gone down to the three senatorial districts but discovered that some principals had inflated the numbers of their students just to make illegal money.

Explaining how the alleged fraudulent act was exposed, the commissioner said: “The schools across the state were asked to submit registers. The total number of students in our register is 15, 033. How did we arrive at this figure? The principals of public secondary schools were instructed to submit their school registers, which they did. And we came up with that figure based on the registers submitted by the schools.

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“Of course, we are not just going to take those numbers like that without verification. But, when we got approval and the release of funds by Governor Bello, the next thing we did was a physical verification process to ensure that the 15,033 students were duly registered to undertake WAEC. We needed to do some capturing and so we advised students to remain in their schools for capturing. By the time we were done capturing, we realised that we had captured not just 15,033 students but 22,735 students.

” We wondered how we got 22,735 students instead of the 15,033 students in the register. This is high. This put us on an inquiry, and we discovered what happened. We discovered that some school principals had gone to inflate the figures with fictitious names. Some of them had gone to the extent of getting names from private schools and importing those names into their registers; they wanted government to pay that money for people who are not supposed to benefit from the intervention of the government for this year’s WAEC.

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“The other thing they did was to go and invite all manner of people so that their schools could have a population. They went to the extent of asking people who had previously written WAEC to come and get captured so that government would be paying money for people who wrote and failed WAEC a couple of years ago. We went there and we knew that something was wrong. That was why we insisted on physical verification.”

According to him, 14,400 students have since been fully cleared by the ministry to participate in the 2024 West Africa Examination Council, WAEC.

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“This is about 95 per cent of the entire students. The people making the noise that my ministry is coming up with draconian conditions to register students for this year’s WAEC are those principals who refuse to come for physical verification and they all have questionable characters. The principals of these schools will be made the scapegoats because they want to use the system to defraud the government,” he added.

He cautioned school principals trying to sabotage the effort of the government to desist from such fraudulent acts, noting: “Parents should hold the principal responsible if there is any student that started right from the onset in that school, did transfer to another school, and the child is not cleared. The parent should ask the principal questions.”

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