The controversial official of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Philomina Chieshe, who claimed that the board's N36 million was swallowed by a snake, has made a U-turn.
She has now revealed that the missing money was not swallowed by a reptile but by a superior officer of the commission.
LEADERSHIP recalls that Chieshe, who works as a clerk at the JAMB office in Makurdi, Benue State, had told top officials of the examination body that a "mysterious snake" had swallowed the money derived from the sale of JAMB scratch cards when an enquiry was conducted into the matter of missing money.
However, when she appeared before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), she confessed that the money was collected by one Samuel Umoru, her superior.
It was gathered that the EFCC had interrogated Chieshe on several occasions since she made headlines with the sensational claim in February.
"The interesting aspect of the disclosure is that Chieshe's statement (on snake swallowing the money) was obtained long before the snake and naira swallowing testimony became public knowledge," an EFCC official was quoted as saying.
"In all her statements before the EFCC, there was no mention of any episode of any snake and the disappearance of monies in her care.
"In a fact-sheet regarding the investigations, Chieshe was quoted to have said her superior -- the coordinator at the Markurdi office -- had asked her to withdraw the N36 million."
According to a report in the Nation, the fact-sheet notes that "contrary to her claim before the leadership of the examination body that the N36 million proceeds from the sale of scratch cards were eaten up by a snake, Chieshe told operatives of the anti-graft agency that the money was collected piecemeal from her by her coordinator, Mr. Samuel Sale Umoru.
"In one of the statements she volunteered to the EFCC, Chieshe, who is a clerk in the Makurdi office of JAMB, revealed that the coordinator usually asked her to withdraw proceeds of the sale of the scratch cards from her account in two new generation banks.
"This money I withdrew, the coordinator used it for the office and sometimes for himself," she was quoted to have said, adding that she had been warning Umoru "that it was improper to use the money for miscellaneous expenses in the office or for private purposes but he would not listen."
The fact-sheet added that the coordinator did not deny the allegations and had been released on administrative bail.
It listed other JAMB officials being probed to include Tanko Labaran, who could not account for N23 million from the sale of scratch cards at the Nasarawa office, and Yakubu Jakada who is yet to explain the whereabouts of N20 million e-facilities cards sold in Kano office.
The suspects are said to have been released on bail pending the conclusion of investigation.