From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has sanctioned some of its officials for alleged harassment of a hijab-wearing candidate who was supposed to participate in the 2024 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

JAMB disclosed that the incident happened at the Bafuto Institute, Ile-Iwe bus stop, Ejigbo, Lagos, adding that the candidate who appeared on hijab was asked to remove the head cover during the accreditation process before she could be allowed into the examination hall.

JAMB spokesman, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, in a statement, on Sunday, said the Board carried investigation when the incident was reported, and discovered that the incident or others in the past, was not linked to any of its examination guidelines.

He said that the action of the officials was a product of the misplaced priority of some of its accredited partners or officials who often claim ignorance of its guidelines on accreditation, which ensures that all candidates are screened allowing only female officials to screen female candidates before allowing them to gain entrance into the hall.

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“The situation was instantly addressed by a senior official of the Board at the centre, and the candidate was allowed in after the usual checks with her hijab. But since ignorance of the law is not an excuse, the officials have been appropriately sanctioned to serve as a deterrent to others, who might wish to toe the same line going forward.

“It’s worthy of note that the Board, as a national institution has no policy barring candidates from supporting the religious paraphernalia peculiar to their religious persuasions as these are the facts of everyday life in Nigeria, which everyone should have been familiar with by now,” he stated.

The Board, however, assured Nigerians that it’s committed to the discharge of its statutory role of ensuring that suitably qualified candidates are selected for admission into the nation’s tertiary institutions, and would not allow anything or anyone to detract it from the pursuit of this noble goal.

It also expect that over 1.2 million candidates would have successfully taken the examination by Monday.