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We need money to perform more effectively ' NECO boss

Published by Tribune on Thu, 05 Jan 2012

A continuation of an interview with the Registrar of NECO, Professor Promise Okpalla, first run on December 22, 2011A continuation of an interview with the Registrar of NECO, Professor Promise Okpalla, first run on December 22, 2011What are the modalities you have adopted to curb malpractice during the conduct of your exams'Most importantly, we have started calling schools to order and it is not just the children themselves. Once we see sufficient evidence of mass cheating and the kind of cheating that shows that practically everybody in the hall was caught; the kind of cheating where you see some scripts in Mathematics and they all copy comma for comma, full stop for full stop, we will ban the school , we will withdraw our accreditation because we feel that the school is no longer conducive to take our exams . That will be a deterrent to other schools. At least, we did that once, for a period of two years. Problems emanating from outright legal prosecution is enormous, so, we are trying as much as it is feasible not to embarrass the society in an attempt to make sure that the credibility of our certificate is convincing to the users.The issue of examination malpractice is difficult to determine in the court because of the nature of the Nigerian society as at today . The only way to curb examination malpractice is for everybody to say 'no, we will not do it.' It is only integrity that can stop examination malpractice in the country, because no amount of tribunals , no amount of law can stop it . Malpractice is also not a Nigerian concept, it happens all over the world, but the rate at which it happens is not the same because in some locations it is minimal, while in other locations it is at the maximum level. And in fact, a public examination must be transparent .How easy is it for NECO to prosecute cases of examination malpractice during the conduct of its exams and how many convictions has it recorded so far 'Honestly, it is very cumbersome to prosecute examination offenders in Nigeria, despite the fact that we have Examination Malpractices Act. We have so many cases where supervisors will not even be ready to go to court to give evidence and apart from that, Police in Nigeria , when any case of malpractice is reported, most of them are not even aware that there is an existence of Examination Malpractices Act .They jumped on the penal code or criminal code and start prosecution , whereas the law says it is the Federal court that can try a perpetrator. Apart from that, the Examination Malpractices Act has compliance with the jurisdiction of courts because the only court that has jurisdiction to try examination offences is the Federal High Court. We have a Federal High Court in Minna now but if we have examination offences at New Bussa, which is also in Niger State, it is only the Federal High Court in Minna, that has jurisdiction . But you see, the problem will have to do with coming down to Minna with each adjournment in New Bussa, or Kontagora . What we are saying is that why can't the state high court be allowed to assume jurisdiction of these offences' The Examination Malpractices Act is a federal law and we are applying criminal procedure code , criminal procedure act, even at the magistrate's court . Then why can't the state high courts assume jurisdiction to try examination offences' And we hope that with the outcome of the summit , something would be done in that direction, so that even if you are recording little success in prosecution, this would be publicised and reduce malpractice to its barest minimum .About the convictions we have secured, at the Federal High Court, Calabar, Cross River State, we had to go the extra mile and we succeeded because of the support of the press corps; they took a pragmatic approach in making sure that we secured those convictions So, my advice is that we should extend jurisdiction to other courts and with this we will be able to achieve more success in the prosecution of offences .Going by the annual poor performances of the candidates in the NECO examinations, can we now say the assessments can be judged by their performances'No, that is not true because assessment, at times, is not the only determining factor. At managerial positions, you may realise that assessment is just an input into certain decisions taken. The exams operators are not the real decision makers but they provide you with information that will enable the decision to be done well. At the final decision making, examination results may be an input . So when we were given some special tasks , it is not the same thing as holding the exams or tests. But the only exams we do here, we ensure that maximum independence is granted. It is different if somebody calls us and says, 'we want to admit some children, can you give us a test, look at their age groups and the scheme of work,' we will take it . When we finish we will carry the results, go back and say we have done this task and this is the result. In exams like that, when we do it on Saturday, by Monday, the result is ready . But we cannot release the result of such an exam to the public, except by going back to the person who gave us the task and give him or her the result. Our own is to do a professional job and that is why we always tell people who want to see their results before the official release to go to the Federal Ministry of Education.
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