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Law gradually catches up with fake doctor from Ogbadibo

Written By Idoma Television on Monday, August 17, 2015 | 4:42:00 AM

WINIFRED OGBEBO writes on the turn of events around the imposter who paraded himself as a medical doctor in the Federal Ministry of Health for several years as justice gradually catches up with him

The long arm of the law is gradually catching up with Martins Okpeh Ugwu, who reigned like a supremo in the Federal Ministry of Health where he functioned as a ‘medical doctor’ for more than nine years. The holy book’s admonition that the wicked will never go unpunished is being fulfilled right before his very eyes.

He was arraigned almost a month ago at an Abuja high court on a five-count charge bordering on fraud and deceit. That the 44-year old secondary school certificate holder paraded himself as a medical doctor for nine whole years and even rose to become the chairman of a branch of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA before he was detected remains a shock which many people are yet to recover from.

An indigene of Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue State and father of five children, Ugwu had stolen the medical and academic credentials of his childhood friend, Dr. George Davidson, a medical doctor practising in Jos and used them to secure employment in the Federal Ministry of Health.

He ‘practised’ for nine years and collected salaries due a senior medical officer until the lid was blown off his scheme. All through his deceit, he was described as an argumentative and bellicose officer who tormented the lives of his colleagues in the ministry, serving as a competent and confident trickster and an extortionist.

He was said to have perfected his trade of extortion not only from staff of the main ministry but also heads of agencies under the Federal Ministry of Health who he often harassed.
As the fake doctor’s unprofessional conduct and unbecoming behaviour became intolerable, a petition was sent to the Federal Civil Service Commission and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria Council (MDCN) to investigate and clarify his status. Immediately, the lid was blown off the deceit and he was uncovered as an impostor.

‎ One of those deeply saddened by the sordid situation is the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Linus Awute, who was said to be at the receiving end of Ugwu’s mischief.
Since the discovery, Awute , in a July 6, 2015 petition to the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, entitled ‘Undue Harassment And Threat To Life’, said Ugwu was not operating alone as staff of the ministry including himself had been receiving threatening text messages from unknown people over the issue.

“I have feelers that he has sponsors, both external and internal, who are also willing to step into his shoes. They have been sending threatening text messages to all of us here,” he stated. A still stunned Awute further said, “It’s quite shocking because I respect the medical profession, I have a lot of friends and relations who are medical doctors, and because of their professionalism and functions, it has made me to revere the profession, because it’s about saving lives.

“This guy in question happens to be someone I met in the ministry, so it would be out of place for me to come into the ministry and believe that the man who is called a medical doctor is not a medical doctor,” he said.

The permanent secretary explained that he was rudely shocked when he saw a letter of invitation for interrogation from the civil service commission to ‘gentleman’ Ugwu on the issue. “I was a bit surprised as to why the invitation will centre on such allegations, and I thought it was rumours that circulate in the system where people want to pull people down.
“I thought it was just to spite him, but little did I know that it will come to pass that this gentleman has question to answer as communicated by the civil service commission and the Medical Dental Council of Nigeria,” he added.

As for the man whom he impersonated for 9 years, Dr Davidson, to say he was shocked is to put it mildly.
“I felt betrayed. That is the summary of the whole thing because this is somebody that even my family who stays in Abuja complains about that there is something about him that they don’t like and I will still go out of my way to defend him, even in front of them,” he said.

He explained that he graduated in 2002, and after his housemanship was exempted from the NYSC based on age. He worked with the Plateau State Government from 2004 to 2012, during which period he went round three general hospitals in the state before resigning to go for his residency programme. He has been on the residency programme from 2013 till date. All through these years, he never had an inkling that his bossom friend was posing as a medical doctor in his work place using his name and credentials, he added.

The real Dr Davidson said he was dazed when the Dental and Medical Council of Nigeria told him on the phone that he was being impersonated, with the photocopies of his certificate.
Expressing serious concern and utmost disappointment in Ugwu, he said members of his family had remained in shock over the incident.

“None of his relations has spoken with me, even though I believe I deserve some apologies from them. If there is one thing I want out of this whole case, it is for me to get an apology either from Martins or from his family members,” George said.

He added, however, that he got a little peace when he saw Ugwu paraded on national television for the fraud and expressed the hope that the matter would not be swept under the carpet. “Since this thing happened, nobody has called me and I get afraid that with the normal Nigerian way of doing things, it will be swept under the carpet,” he pointed out.

But the permanent secretary is so determined in his quest for justice on the matter that he is not leaving any stone unturned in ensuring the prosecution of the case to the letter. He has meanwhile taken steps to erase every trace of Ugwu in the ministry. He had earlier warned the nation’s development partners, NGOs and CBOs working in partnership with the ministry not to have any form of dealings with Ugwu.

“I also wish to call on all national and international agencies to discountenance all protest letters and submissions written by this impostor,” he further counseled.
As the nation awaits the outcome of the trial of the fake doctor, the ministry has calculated his total emolument for the over nine years he operated and according to the estimate, Ugwu is to refund over N17 million he fraudulently received during the period.

This first punishment is a welcome development. Ultimately, it is expected that the fraudster will do a jail term in the nearest future to serve as deterrent for people like him and others who may be tempted to toe same line.
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