Makerere University management has revealed that a junior staff from the academic registrar’s department created a new version of the institution’s results management system without authority from his supervisor and used it to alter students’ marks for monetary gains.
The report from the academic registrar (AR), Mr Alfred Namoah, accuses Mr Mike Bitamale Barongo, the head of ICT, of forging students’ marks on the results management system.
It is also alleged that Mr Barongo accessed the marks using the password of Ms Anne Auma without her knowledge. Sources that requested anonymity in order to speak freely, claimed students were paying Mr Barongo between Shs300,000 and Shs1m per paper they wanted falsified.
“A meeting convened by AR on February 1 with all ICT staff in which you participated has agreed that the results for February 2017 graduands be loaded onto the old system for checks and balances with the transcript system. But you Mike Bitamale Barongo deployed a new results management system version without authority from the academic registrar and the university management,” reads part of his suspension letter.
It adds: “You are, therefore, held accountable for using the new system which had no checks and balances leading to alteration of marks.”
Mr Barongo’s co-accused Mr Dennis Mbabazi, Ms Joyce Namusoke and Mr Christopher Ntwatwa, all administrative assistants in the AR’s office, have also been slapped with 11 counts, including “forgery, falsification and presenting false documents, obtaining money, reward and favour.” The suspects were all suspended from the university service with half-pay pending completion of investigations.
It was also established that some students’ marks were allegedly altered from Ms Namusoke’s computer. The quartet are said to be in police custody more than a week after their arrest, stretching beyond the constitutional 48 hours allowed for one to be held without being produced in court. Mr Emilian Kayima, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, has in the past three days failed to respond to this newspaper’s queries on what charges have been preferred against the suspects.
Sources indicated that last week, Mr Barongo was released on bond but was later rearrested. Mr Barongo was also reported to have been driven by the police to the Makerere University Senate Building, which houses the Academic Registrar’s office and was asked to log onto the ICT system he has been using to allow investigators access to the system.
“When they opened the system, they found marks had been changed. It is not yet clear how many students were affected, but these people have been pocketing almost Shs10 million everyday, especially during graduation period,” the source intimated.
The exams marks scam was unearthed after lecturers sounded the alarm alleging that students in their departments who had not met the minimum requirement had been listed in the 67th graduation booklet.
It was also established that President Museveni is outraged with the development at the university.
“The President says he has been giving them a lot of money to do innovations and they are instead doing the contrary,” the source said.
Mr Don Wanyama, the presidential press secretary, said he could not independently verify whether the marks fraud had been reported to his boss but he added that the visitation committee the President instituted in December to look at how the university is being run should be able to record that in their report.
The deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, wrote to police chief Gen Kale Kayihura informing him that they needed police intervention in investigating some university staff who were suspected to aid the marks falsification.
Subsequently, the police arrested some of the staff suspected to be involved in the scam. A decision was later reached to suspend anyone cited as an accomplice in the exams marks scam.