The case of alleged swallowing of N36 million by a mysterious snake in Benue State took a dramatic turn on Tuesday with Senator Shehu Sani, storming the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, headquarters in Abuja with snake charmers.
He also donated cartons of snake repellent and chemicals to JAMB.
Sani who represents Kaduna Central in the National Assembly said he was at the JAMB office to help get to the root of the claim that N36 million was gulped by a snake.
A sales clerk of JAMB at the Makurdi office, Philomena Chieshe, who could not account for the N36 million she made in previous years before the abolition of scratch cards blamed it on a mysterious snake.
During an interrogation carried out, Philomena alleged that her housemaid connived with another JAMB staff to spiritually (through a snake) steal the money from the vault in the account office.
JAMB authorities had however vowed to get to the root of the matter, dismissing Philomena’s snake story as a “cock and bull stuff.”
Speaking during his visit to JAMB office on Tuesday, Sani said he was there to offer help to get to the root of the matter.
He wondered how such a huge amount could be swallowed by a snake.
He said if care was not taken, Nigeria would wake up one day to find out that a snake had emptied the nation’s treasury.
“I believe that the contribution I can make is to bring snake charmers from my constituency to the JAMB office and to help them fish out the snake and weed out snakes from their premises,” he said.
“I believe that my contribution to JAMB will help them fish out snakes within the office.
“Even if it is a spiritual matter, we believe that these people I brought are some of the best snake charmers in the country and they will help in arresting both physical and spiritual snakes if there has been any in the JAMB office.”
Speaking well of the current Registrar of JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, Sani said the case of a snake swallowing money could not have happened under him (Oloyede).
“We are very proud of him. We believe he is someone who should continue to man this board and he is acting in the right direction.
“It is good for Nigerians to know this is what has been happening before he came into office. I believe the best thing we can do is to continue to support him…
“It is high time all Nigerians knew that there may be even dirty things happening in other places but this place has exposed it for us to see the truth and I’m very much happy about that.
“We will continue to support him. And as far as we are concerned, the story that public funds could be taken away by some people in the name of snake, is virtually unacceptable.”
In his response, the spokesperson of JAMB, Mr. Fabian Benjamin, explained that on assumption of duty, the present registrar discovered that there were a lot of loopholes in the sale of scratch cards.
Said he: “Before the registrar resumed duty, what we were using to register candidates and all other services was scratch cards.
“We discovered a lot of loopholes, we discovered that staff were exposed to cash and then he stopped the use of scratch cards.
“The registrar thereafter introduced pin vending. After introducing pin vending, it was natural for him to call for audit or stock taking.
“After taking stock it was discovered that in some offices they could not account for what they sold, or the card that was left.
“Ms Philomena Chieshe was entrusted with a number of scratch cards which she sold and N36 million could not be accounted for. When asked she actually said she sold them at the said amount and kept the money in the public vault.
“According to her, a snake swallowed the money.”
Benjamin further explained in the spirit of transparency, inclusiveness and openness the agency felt that Nigerians should know what was happening.
He said Chieshe had been queried and has appeared before a disciplinary committee.
“A report has been written and sent to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, and as soon as that report is approved, she will either be dismissed or handed over to the security agency for proper profiling.
“At the moment she has been interjected,” Benjamin said.
He also noted that there was a case in Nasarawa State where a staff claimed on his way to submit the cards, he had an accident and the cards got burnt.