By Felix Khanoba
Three students of University of Abuja were on Tuesday arraigned before a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Magistrate Court, Wuse Zone 2, Abuja, for allegedly using forged certificates of the National Examination Council (NECO) to gain admission into the University.
The suspects; Effiong Theresa, Solomon Victor and Abdulkabir Mohammad, who pleaded not guilty to the one-count charge of forgery preferred against them, were however granted bail in the sum of N200,000 each, with one surety in like sum.
The Magistrate, Idayat Akanni Olaide, said the surety must not be lower than a level 8 civil servant and should also be a resident within the jurisdiction of the court.
According to the First Information Report (FIR) read by the clerk of the court to the suspects, the alleged offence committed is in breach of Section 364 of the Penal Code.
The FIR read: “Forgery contrary to Section 364 of Penal Code. On the 18 October, 2019, the registrar of the University of Abuja laid a complaint to the AIG Zone 7 headquarters Abuja for investigation.
“It revealed that you Effiong Theresa Etim with June 2017 NECO SSC no 501569013, Solomon Victor June 2017 NECO SSC no: 10506512111 and Abdulkabir Mohammad with June 2012 NECO SSC no: 105016543.
“That these certificates upon which you gained admission or sought admission into University of Abuja are forged certificates. You are thereby suspected to have committed the above offence.”
The court was also told that the fourth suspect, Yakubu Joy Adama, who committed the same offence, couldn’t make it to the court for arraignment.
In a chat with newsmen after the court sitting, the Police Prosecutor, Mr Chijoke Okezie, expressed his readiness to ensure that the case is well prosecuted.
“They have been arraigned for the offence of forgery and the matter has been mentioned and the adjournment taken for hearting.
“One is absent and efforts are on to get her. We are going to look for her,” he said.
On the bail granted to the three suspects, Chijioke said he has nothing against it as long as they would make themselves available in court when needed.
“Bail is a right. They are entitled to bail as long as they will come back the day they are asked to comeback. There is no need to object to bail,” he said.
The court adjourned the case to 23 April 2020 for commencement of trial.
As at time of filing this report, the defendants were yet to perfect their bail conditions, which may see them heading to detention or prison remand till the bail terms are fully met.
Recall that the move by NECO to drag the suspects to court is part of a wider plan to begin a massive crack down on individuals using forged NECO certificates in tertiary education institutions across the country.