A prosecution witness, Patrick Obilo, who is also an auditor with the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, has narrated how the chief accounting officer of the Makurdi Zonal Office of the board, Samuel Umoru, and a clerical officer in the same office, Mrs. Philomina Chieshe, attempted to bribe a JAMB auditor, Mallam Ibrahim Oba, with N50,000.
The bribe, Obilo informed Justice Peter Affen of the FCT High Court, Maitama, Abuja, was meant to prevent the auditor from carrying out a financial audit of the zonal office.
Umoru and Chieshe were first and second defendants respectively in a charge brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over the disappearance of N35m belonging to JAMB.
During Obilo’s re-examination by the prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, he disclosed that Oba was sent to the Makurdi office of JAMB in 2016 for a routine examination of the account books and consignment notes, which showed quantities of items supplied such as e-facility cards used to check and print results, change of course card, scratch cards, question and answer cards, receipts or tellers.
According to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, on Tuesday, the witness revealed that while in Makurdi, Chieshe visited Oba’s hotel room with an envelope containing N50,000 as “gift” from her boss, Umoru, and urged him to return to Abuja.
The auditor, according to Obilo, sensed danger and reported the situation to the head of JAMB’s Audit Unit, James Ochijele, in Abuja, who ordered that the N50,000 be paid into the board’s account. Ochijele had to replace Oba with Obilo for the same assignment in the Makurdi office.
While examining the account books in the Makurdi Office, Obilo said he discovered a shortfall in the proceeds from the sales of e-facility cards and change of course forms to the tune of N35.4m which were not remitted to the board’s account.
The statement said, “Asked for explanation, Chieshe began to cry as she gave all manners of justifications for the disappearance of the money, including a tale that a mystery snake had been swallowing the money in Umoru’s office, even as it was kept in a safe.
“In another incredible story, she claimed that a mermaid appeared to her in her bedroom to attack her at various times and that her house maid is a witch.” The trial judge adjourned the matter to January 21, 2020, for continuation of trial.