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2024 UTME: JAMB sanctions officials Who Asked hijab-wearing candidate to remove head cover

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The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) says it has sanctioned some of its accredited officials for asking a hijab-wearing female Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) candidate to remove her head cover before entrance to the exam hall.

This was made known in a statement signed by JAMB’s Public Communication Advisor (PCA), Dr. Fabian Benjamin, in Abuja.

The statement, which was in reaction to publications on some news platforms titled ‘RE: LAGOS CENTRE STOPS HIJAB-WEARING CANDIDATES AS UTME COMMENCES,’ said the incident was instantly resolved with the female candidate being allowed to sit for the UTME with her hijab.

While saying it has no policy barring candidates from sporting the religious paraphernalia peculiar to their religious persuasions, JAMB said the affected officials acted in ignorance, which is not an excuse before the law.

The exam body also revealed that about 1.2 million candidates would have successfully taken the UTME by Monday, April 22, 2024.

The statement reads in full: “The attention of the Board was drawn to an unfortunate incident at the Bafuto Institute, Ile-Iwe Bus Stop, Ejigbo, Lagos, where it was reported by Muslim News of Sunday, 21st April, 2024, and other platforms, that a candidate donning hijab was asked to remove her head cover during the accreditation process before being allowed into the examination hall.

The Board deeply regretted the incident and, on investigation, discovered, that this particular incident, or others in the past, is not linked to any of its examination guidelines but rather a product of the misplaced priority of some of the Board’s accredited partners or officials who claimed ignorance of the Board’s 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.

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

However, 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 is worthy of note that the Board, as a national institution, has no policy barring candidates from sporting 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.

Furthermore, the Board assures the general public that this issue will be properly investigated, as it had done in past incidents, to prevent a recurrence, and nothing will be swept under the carpet.

The Board is 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.

Meanwhile, the conduct of the 2024 UTME, which commenced on Friday, 19th April, 2024, had been seamless, as over 1.2 million candidates would have successfully taken the examination by Monday, 22nd April, 2024.”

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