From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has sanctioned some of its accredited officials for demanding that a hijab-wearing candidate at Saturday’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) must remove her headgear.

The officials, at one of the examination centres in Lagos, had insisted that removal of the hijab by the candidate was a prerequisite for her to have access into the examination hall.

“The Board deeply regrets the incident and, on investigation, discovered that this particular incident, or others in the past, is not linked to any of its examination guidelines.

“It was rather a product of the misplaced priority of some of the accredited partners or officials who claimed ignorance of the Board’s guidelines on accreditation.

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“The guidelines ensure that all candidates are screened, allowing only female officials to screen female candidates before allowing them to gain entrance into the hall.

“The situation was instantly addressed by a senior official of the Board at the centre and the candidate in question was allowed in after the usual checks with her hijab.

“Since ignorance of the law is not an excuse, the officials have been sanctioned to serve as a deterrent to others,’’ the board’s Public Communication Advisor, Dr Fabian Benjamin, stated in Abuja.

He noted that the culpable officials acted in ignorance as JAMB had no policy barring candidates from wearing the religious paraphernalia peculiar to their faith.

Benjamin stated also that about 1.2 million candidates would have successfully taken the examination by the end of today.