362 vs ‘419’: Mmesoma Ejikeme, Retribution or Rehabilitation

By Taiwo Abiodun-Oni

The case of Mmesoma Ejikeme, a candidate in the 2023 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), raises important philosophical questions surrounding the concepts of retribution and rehabilitation in the face of criminal behavior. The revelations from the committee’s report, which confirmed Mmesoma’s forgery of her UTME results, compel us to delve into the fundamental principles of criminality, the objectives of punishment, and the need to uphold the integrity of educational assessments.

In contemplating Mmesoma’s actions, it becomes evident that she consciously manipulated her examination results and deceived her educational institution, family, and the state government. Such deceit prompts us to reflect upon the most appropriate response to her transgression, taking into account the principles of retribution and rehabilitation.

Retribution, the idea of just punishment, has long been a cornerstone of criminal justice systems. It seeks to satisfy the sense of societal outrage and the desire for justice by imposing penalties on those who have violated established norms. Mmesoma’s deliberate forgery undoubtedly falls within the realm of criminal behavior, and accountability is crucial. However, punishment alone does not address the underlying causes of such actions or prevent their recurrence.

Rehabilitation, on the other hand, aims to reform offenders, facilitate their reintegration into society, and prevent future criminal behavior. It recognizes that individuals possess the capacity for change and growth, even in the aftermath of unethical deeds. In the case of Mmesoma, a course of action that includes psychological counseling and adherence to ethical guidelines can provide an opportunity for personal development and reform.

Beyond the individual level, the objectives of punishment extend to deterrence. The notion of specific deterrence seeks to dissuade the offender from repeating similar transgressions. By offering Mmesoma psychological counseling and therapy, we acknowledge the potential for her personal growth and increased awareness of the consequences of her actions. This approach may deter her from engaging in further fraudulent activities.

General deterrence, on the other hand, seeks to discourage potential offenders in society at large by making an example of the punishment imposed on individuals who commit similar crimes. The public scrutiny surrounding Mmesoma’s case, coupled with the recommended measures, can serve as a deterrent to others who might contemplate engaging in similar acts of forgery. It sends a clear message that such actions will not go unpunished and underscores the significance of ethical conduct within educational systems.

At the heart of this discussion lies the importance of protecting the sanctity of examinations. Educational assessments play a vital role in evaluating academic competency and determining future opportunities. The integrity of these assessments hinges upon the accuracy and reliability of the results. Mmesoma’s forgery not only compromises the fairness of the system but also erodes public trust.

By advocating for a written apology, emphasizing adherence to ethical guidelines, and highlighting the consequences of unethical behavior, we aim to restore faith in the examination process. Upholding ethical standards and preserving the integrity of academic assessments are essential for fostering a just and transparent educational environment.

The case of Mmesoma Ejikeme pushes us to grapple with the complexities of retribution, rehabilitation, and the preservation of ethical standards. Striking a balance between holding individuals accountable for their actions and providing opportunities for personal growth and reform is crucial. By understanding the objectives of punishment, promoting deterrence, and safeguarding the sanctity of examinations, we can foster a fair and just society while upholding the principles of rehabilitation and personal development.

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