EFCC arrests and interrogates Jamb official who claimed snake swallowed N36m at its Makurdi office

ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) officials have arrested and interrogated the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (Jamb) official who claimed that a snake swallowed N36m ($99,210) at its Makurdi office.


Jamb, which conducts entrance examinations into Nigeria's universities, is a major revenue earner for the education ministry as it sells admission forms to millions of applicants. During a recent audit of Jamb's finances, Philomina Chieshe, an official at its Makurdi office in Benue State, said that N36m, which were the proceeds of the sale of scratch cards,  miraculously went missing as a snake on the premises consumed the amount.


EFCC detectives said that under interrogation, Ms Chieshe revealed that the missing money was collected in instalments from her by her coordinator Samuel Umoru. In one of the statements she volunteered to the EFCC, Ms Chieshe who is a clerk in the Makurdi office, was said to have revealed that the coordinator usually asked her to withdraw proceeds of the sale of the cards from her account in two banks.


She said: “This money that I withdraw, the coordinator used it for the office and some time for himself. He instructed me to withdraw the sum of N640,000 using my card between June 30, 2014 and July 7, 2014.”


Ms Chieshe claimed that she had been warning Mr Umoru that it was wrong to use the money for miscellaneous expenses in the office or for private purposes but he would not listen. She added that some of the withdrawals included the N340,000 withdrawn on May 5 and 26, 2014 with an ATM card.


She also disclosed that she used her ATM card to withdraw N120,000 for the coordinator between June 17 and 18, 2014. Subsequently, Mr Umaru has also been arrested and questioned about the claims made by Ms Chieshe.


An EFCC official said: “The interesting aspect of the disclosure is that Ms Chieshe’s statement was obtained long before the snake and naira swallowing testimony became public knowledge. She was first quizzed on February 16, 2017 and made additional statements on April 7, May 30  and June 28, 2017.


“In all her statements before the EFCC, there was no mention of any episode of any snake and the disappearance of monies in her care.” He added that the EFCC also quizzed another Jamb official, Tanko Labaran, the clerk in Nasarawa State office of the board  who could not account for scratch cards worth N23m.