The Joint Admission Matriculation Board has said the allegation of discrimination against it by an 18-year-old admission seeker living with a disability, Esther Abiona, was untrue.
Abiona had, in an interview with Saturday PUNCH, claimed that she was denied the opportunity of registering for the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination on the grounds of her disability, a position which JAMB said was false and not representative of its ideals.
The teenager, who lost all her fingers on her left hand to a strange infection when she was 12, claimed that her inability to provide 10 fingers for biometric verification was responsible for the failure of the JAMB registration officers to capture her in the system for the 2023 registration.
When contacted for a response to the allegations, JAMB’s spokesperson, Dr Fabian Benjamin, said it was not true that she was denied the opportunity to register solely on the grounds of her disability.
Benjamin said, “When there is a challenge in capturing 10 fingers, the officers are meant to capture the fingers that are available and write a report on why the others could not be captured.”
Also, in a rejoinder titled, “The True Story of Esther Abiona – JAMB”, a copy of which was sent to The PUNCH, Benjamin stated that Abiona’s narration was not correct.
He noted that the candidate had registered for UTME twice despite the disability before the 2023 exercise.
He said, “Ms Abiona registered for UTME at Mountain Top University CBT Centre, Ogun State, at 4.46pm on May 12, 2021.
“Given her obvious condition and in line with the guidelines, she was registered with five fingers and five toes. She applied for MBBS at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. Unfortunately, she did not meet the requirement for admission into any course.
“Again, just as it was in 2021, she was registered with five fingers and five toes on 8th March 2022, at 3:24pm in Oye-Ekiti for the UTME and applied to Federal University, Oye -Ekiti, to study Medical Laboratory Science.
“While this was being processed, she suddenly changed to Microbiology last month (February 2023).
“The board felt the change to Microbiology was unnecessary because she could still make her first choice and was investigating the reason for the change. That was where we were when she went to the media.”
For the 2023 registration, the JAMB spokesperson confirmed that Abiona indeed obtained the ePIN on February 14, 2023, as stated in her interview with Saturday PUNCH, which, according to Benjamin, was ‘the initial last day for the exercise.’
Benjamin said, “She approached our office in Abeokuta on February 15, 2023, which was the day designated for those candidates whose disability was not obvious to come to Abuja for verification and registration at the board’s expense.
“She was then told that the registration exercise would end on February 15, 2023, as a result of which she panicked, though the exercise was on that day eventually extended to February 22, 2023, which was widely advertised.
“Is it now baffling that after registering for UTME in 2021 and 2022 with five fingers and five toes as provided for by the board, she would turn around to allege that she was denied registration in 2023 on account of the same disability?
“If she was exempted from travelling to Abuja in 2021 and to the Zonal Headquarters in 2022, why would she then be required for 2023 when her biometric data are in our system?”