Forgery, Fraud and Falsification of official documents are triple F letter words that constitute very serious crime against humanity and government, while kidnapping has being a way of life for some people, not only to extort huge sums of money but wickedly humiliate their innocent targets, writes Chris RICHARDS.
Ebonyi is one of the six states created by the late Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Gen. Sani Abacha in 1996. The creation of the state was then championed by the late Governor of former Eastern Region, Chief Akanu Ibiam who proposed the state capital to be cited at Afikpo with the name of the state coming from the Abakaliki zone. But this is not to be today because of the demise of the late sage. On creation, the new champions sited both the name of the state and its capital in Abakaliki zone. Today, Ebonyi state has Ebonyi local government area right inside Abakaliki with Abakaliki LGA also, deviating from the fore fathers original plans and what happened in Delta state’s Asaba against the Warri people’s aspiration for an Anioma state with capital at Warri.
The neo-colonization, nepotism and tribal sentiments that beclouded the Ebonyi issue made the Abakaliki zone especially the Izzi and Ikwo people to see themselves as the winner takes it all as it’s also happening in Abia state where the Umuahia zone is sidelining the Aba zone (Ukwa/Ngwa) where the resources of the state comes from.
This trend must not be allowed to continue. There should be equity, justice, fair play and most of all merit in the appointment of principal positions in our states that were created by the federal government. The Ebonyi issue in this report should be a case study and an eye opener where the former governor comes from Abakalaiki zone comprising of the Izzi and Ikwo people of the state, the new deputy governor from the zone, the former vice chancellor of the university from the zone, the Federal University established by the immediate-past regime sighted in the zone, the Federal Teaching Hospital in the area as well as the state university and the immediate-past Hon. minister of state for health, Engr. Fidel Nwankwo, as if the other zone does not exist. What a greed and self centeredness of a people that were created to be one and, be their brother’s keeper.
So in line with the Buhari administration’s zero tolerance on corruption, fraud and crime, it is therefore pertinent for the government to extend her searchlight to Ebonyi state to unravel what is happening at federal institutions cited there and extend for proper investigations in an alleged wrong selection and/or appointment into the office of the Chief Medical Director of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki now raising dusts.
Following petitions written and signed by one Obiorah Oji and Dr. Agama Nnachi Egwu titled “The Selection Process For The Appointment Of A New Chief Medical Director For Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki, Ebonyi State: A Process Characterized By Irregularities And Corrupt Practices-A Complaint” dated 30th April, 2015;“The Falsified Record Of Service Of Dr. Onwe-Ogah Emeka Who Has Been Appointed The Chief Medical Director (CMD) Of Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA)” dated 19th June, 2015 and “Petitions Against The Irregular Appointment Of An Unqualified Consultant With Forged Credentials As The Chief Medical Director (CMD) Of Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA), Ebonyi State, Nigeria” dated 6th July, 2015 etc, addressed to the Hon. Minister of Health, the Chairman of the Board of the Hospital Management; the Chairman of ICPC, Ebonyi state Director of DSS, Head of Service of the Federation, Nigerian Medical and Dental Council and the state Commissioner of Police, equally copied to the SGF and the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute as well as the Public Complaints Commission, Abakaliki, Ebonyi with the PCC’s response Re: “Appointment Of An Unqualified Consultant-Dr. Onwe-Ogah Emeka-As The Chief Medical Director (CMD) Base On Alleged Falsification Of Records”, Ref. No. PCC/EB/C.245/2015/36” dated July, 10, 2015 addressed to the embattled Chief Medical Director and signed by One Obasi, Emmanuel A. for Hon. Commissioner which was copied to one Dr. Timothy Daniel for his information believed to be one of the aggrieved petitioners, made available to us, the complainants complained about the sordid events that have trailed the selection process for the appointment of a Chief Medical Director in their institution.
It will be recalled that the second term of office of Dr. Paul Ezeonu ended 30th April, 2015 but before his exit, the process of selection of his predecessor was put in place by the board of management of the hospital. We gathered that the interview process was eventually conducted by the board without adherence to the doctrine of due process on Monday 27th April, 2015 amongst 13 candidates which according to the petitioners was characterized by lack of openness and transparency and severally compromised and, stage managed to produce a pre-determined outcome geared to favor the emergence of an alleged unqualified candidate, Dr. Emeka Onwe-Ogah, the immediate-past Chairman of the institution’s Medical Advisory Committee.
They enumerated some of the inherent flaws associated with the process as perpetrated by the board to include: None screening of candidates and failure to shortlist suitably qualified candidates resulting in the interview of two unqualified candidates in the persons of Dr. Daniel Umezuruike and Dr. Emeka Onwe Ogah, Allegations of bribery of members of board of management by the out-gone CMD Dr. Paul Ezeonu to favor Dr. Onwe-Ogah, Flagrant violation of eligibility requirements by the board as set by her and approved by Federal Ministry of Health in line with University Teaching Hospital decree 10 of 1985 (now Act cap U. 15 L.F.N 2004) and clearly spelt out in the advertisement in Leadership Newspaper of Thursday March 12, 2015 page 21, None adherence to due process in line with the laid down rules for such a selection process and Allegations of leakage of interview questions to Dr. Onwe-Ogah to give him an advantage among others.
They accused Dr. Onwe-Ogah of being an anointed candidate of Dr. Ezeonu whom every machinery was put in place to be foisted on the hospital to replace him as the CMD against his being not suitably qualified to participate in the selection process given that he didn’t meet the eligibility criteria of five years condition of medical practice as a medical consultant, emphasizing that he fraudulently colluded with a clique of members of top management committee of the hospital to engage in grave acts of falsification of his records of service in the institution to ensure that he meets this eligibility criterion.
They made bold to declare that Dr. Onwe-Ogah from available records was employed on 1st July, 2010 as a medical consultant without any evidence of having passed the Fellowship Examination of the West African College of Physicians as seen in his letter of offer of temporary appointment. He stated that it is remarkable that the date of 30th May, 2010 the supposed date it was written was a Sunday, a non-official working day and that the Fellowship certificate and/or statement of result that was relied upon to offer Dr. Onwe-Oga an appointment as a medical consultant were given to him by the college after his suppose date of employment as both of them are dated 9th November, 2010 and 9th April, 2011 respectively.
They maintained that Dr. Onwe-Ogah’s appointment date of 1st July 2010 was reaffirmed by the candidate in the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System Form personally verified by him in the hospital which was sent to the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja then. He decried that it is indeed curious that an individual in the employ of the Civil Service of the Federation would secure an appointment without qualifying documents and most bizarrely get a certificate five clear months before the statement of result for an examination he had written 10th and 13th April, 2010 but in a forged employment letter of 20th April, 2010 claims to have been employed with effect from 16th April, 2010.
He noted that this gives room for more questions and should be seriously looked into, stating that the most ridiculous of these very strange occurrences is that the date on the statement of result, when it was issued was on a Saturday that public offices are not open for business. He said it is evident from the foregoing that the vice of irregularity has become the lot of the employment as it was done without recourse to due process, hence there was no known basis for engaging him in the medical consultant cadre in the first instance. They further claimed that it is most contemptible that the same gang in a style quite strange to civil service procedure proceeded on a voyage in the endeavors of forgery through the acts of falsification of Dr. Onwe-Ogah’s records of employment to reflect a new date of present appointment of 16th April, 2010 to meet the eligibility criteria, adding that the result of this is that there are irregularities in the records of service of Dr. Onwe-Ogah in the institution as he possesses two letters of employment as a medical consultant with the same reference number FMC/AI/AD/71/VOL2/232 bearing different dates but signed by Chief C. C. Ogbu, then Assistant Director, Administration. In similar vein, he continued that the same candidate also possesses two different letters of confirmation of appointment with same reference number FETHA/CON/1203/22 bearing two different dates of 16th April, 2012 and 1st July, 2012.
He noted however that there is glaring evidence that as at 1st June, 2010, this miracle candidate was in the employ of the hospital as a senior registrar (Paediatrics) as reflected in the nominal roll of the hospital as at then, reiterating that there is a prima fascia case of forgery and falsification of his records of his service by Dr. Onwe-Ogah, which according to him deserves to be investigated as these despicable acts amount to gross misconduct and abuse of office of a public officer which is in breach of the civil service rules and epitomizes corruption. He concluded that it is in the light of the foregoing cases of infraction on the laws of the country anchored on forgery and falsification of records of service and criminality that Dr. Onwe-Ogah and all who aided and abetted in his shoddy deal need to be arrested and prosecuted.
When contacted on telephone on 22nd August, 2015 at 7.00pm, Dr. Onwe-Ogah who refused picking a 3-time call, however text our correspondent thus: “I’m at the Cinema” and never responded to the calls again, while the Director of administration, Chief Chris Ogbu when asked via his cell phone same date about the process that led to the selection of the new CMD as well as the double letters of appointment and confirmation of appointment each he said, “Find out from the Federal Ministry of Health there in Abuja”. When pressed further for him to explain why he signed two letters of appointments and two confirmation letters bearing different dates and same reference numbers for one person at the same institution for one job he repeated, “Find out from Abuja” and switched off his phone. When we same date spoke to the Board chairman of the hospital, Alhaji Suleiman Abdullahi Dawakin Kudu on his mobile phone, he asked our reporter, “Where have they being since the appointment of the new Chief Medical Director? Why are they complaining now? Only one person scored above 60% during their selection exercise and the committee sent same to the Hon. Minister of Health for confirmation”. On what were other candidates’ scores, Alhaji Dawakin Kudu declined further comments.
Same date a man who identified himself as the Media Consultant to the hospital, Mr. Okechukwu Emmanuel invited our reporter to Abakaliki on hone on the Director of administration, Chief Chris Ogbu’s instance and at their own expense for them to see and discuss with the new CMD and his team eye-bow to eye-bow. However, our findings revealed that many things during the period under review went wrong as the process was already predetermined by the committee before the physical interview that was conducted for only two unqualified candidates against the rest eleven. Sadly, the former CMD Dr. Paul Ezeonu refused to pick his calls from our correspondent following up this Nigeria-Toronto-like issue while Chief Registrar of Nigeria Medical and Dental Council, Mr. AA Ibrahim’s Airtel number was permanently switched off when we sort to know the reactions of the medical regulatory body on the matter.
When we on Friday September 18th 2015 spoke on telephone with the alleged rightful person that supposed to be appointed as the CMD of the institution, Dr. Agama Nnachi Egwu, a Chief Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and Consultant Special Grade 1(Orthopaedics) of the hospital, he informed us that his merited stolen mandate to an unqualified person is a rape to merit, due process and the medical profession in the country. He however vowed to use every legitimate and constitutional means in the civil service to regain his stolen position and charged the media to expose those who falsify documents to attain to positions they cannot defend. In the same vein, a renowned Pharmacist who for his job pleaded for anonymity, on 22nd August, 2015 in a telephone chat said, “I think your postulation is right”. On what next to do to right the wrong, he explained, “I think it beholds on the leadership of the union here to do something about it. But with the way I am seeing things; I think the union leadership has compromised”. On the way forward, he said “Good enough the issue is in the public domain. For you people who are members of the fourth estate of the realm, I challenge you people not to magnify the crime as it were but to expose it and bring it into public discuss so that the consuming public can be properly informed and educated as to what is happening at Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki and then thereafter we will expect that the security agencies can be able to do their duties”.
A Resident doctor in the Surgery unit of the institution who pleaded for anonymity, in a telephone conversation said, “It is true that a less than four years experienced staff was appointed the Chief Medical Director at Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki”. On what the union is doing to press home the appointment of a more qualified, experienced and most senior personnel take over his mandate, he said, “The things is that it lies squarely on the board to select or appoint whoever they want and recommend such to the minster for confirmation. What I know is that the fellow they appointed has not up to five years experience. If you go to the College where he graduated you can confirm this thing I am saying. The name of the school is West African College of Physicians; they can give you the details. Hence you give them his name and his exam number they will give you the whole data. There are a lot of them that contested, but the most senior of them is Dr. Agama Nnachi Egwu who supposes to be appointed base on his years of professional expertise, teaching Residents, easy-going and cool headedness in the institution but was robbed of his position. He is a professional Surgeon”, the Surgeon concluded.
An officer in the Office of the Coordinator of the Residency Training that also pleaded for anonymity because of the delicate nature of the matter, equally in a telephone chat said, “The advert says he must be a consultant of five years and of proven integrity. As at time of his appointment and going by what the criteria stipulated, Onwe-Ogah was not supposed to be appointed the CMD because he was four years as at the time he was appointed. Secondly, when you talk of proven integrity, the documents that produced him are with lots of forgery. The appointment letter, confirmation letters are all forged. To buttress this, the convocation brochure of the West African College of Physicians in partnership with the Royal College of Physicians of 4th -11th November, 2011 held at Kainda Beach Hotel, The Gambia where his name Dr. Onwe-Ogah, Emeka was conspicuously mentioned alongside others for Paediatrics 2011 on page 21 as well as the Federal Medical Center, Abakaliki staff nominal roll as at 1st June, 2010 submitted to the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja where his name Dr. Onwe-Ogah, Emeka also appeared on No. 73 as MBBS1997, WACP 2005 with date of appointment on 1st December 2009 confirmed on 1st December 2009 and date of his then appointment as senior registrar PAD 1st May 2007 file No. 1203. How come a senior registrar as at 1st June 2010 becomes a CMD when his seniors are still there? A lot of things went wrong. In their report they mentioned experience, how can who had long being a HOD and Dean of a faculty be inexperienced to his far too junior a senior registrar? It is very wrong. There are other contestants who were part of the contest such as Dr. Nwigwe, Dr. Okike, and Dr. Umezuruike and others”. He informed us of their dissatisfaction on the illegal selection process of the committee.
At the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Director, Hospital Services, Dr. (Mrs.) Osinubi who led the ministry’s team to install the alleged unqualified CMD, however spoke to our reporter through Mrs. Uloma Mbanaso directed him to obtain permission from the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Linus Awute before her boss can talk. The unfriendly Perm Sec in turn directed our reporter to send him a questionnaire which was done the following day September 4, 2015 but up till press time the Perm Sec had no answers to the 19 questions fielded to him as he tactically avoided seeing the reporter any longer, but summoned the alleged unqualified CMD and his team to Abuja where they stayed for seven days allegedly lobbying the office of the Vice President for his stay, we reliably gathered.
Back home at Abakaliki, we also gathered on good authority, that the state Deputy Governor, Dr. Barrister Kelechi Igwe September 15, 2015 invited the supposed CMD, Dr. Agama Nnachi Egwu where he narrated how the embattled CMD, Dr. Emeka Onwe Ogah came and knelt down in his office begging that he should assist him persuade Dr. Egwu to rescind from further petitions in Abuja that he promises to work in harmony with him. The Deputy Governor however promise to denounce the embattled doctor if he is found wanton and booked September19, 2015 for a meeting with both Dr. Egwu and Dr. Onwe-Ogah which could not hold due to the latter’s arrest by the police over a suspected kidnap of one of the contestants in the CMD saga, Dr. Obunna Johnson Akuma, where Onwe-Ogah and his predecessor, Dr. Paul Ezeonu were fingered. Similar attack was on 14th July, 2015 at about 03.00hrs made on Dr. Agama Nnachi Egwu’s Abakaliki residence which report was immediately made through a written SOS titled, “Report On Armed Robbery Attack At My Residence” dated 15th July, 2015 to the State Commissioner of Police and the Director of DSS.
The Ebonyi state command of the Nigeria Police confirmed knowledge of the case where the IPO, SP Chinaka Eric informed us that the matter was transferred to the Force Legal Department on their instance after his then CP Mr. Maigari Dikko had directed our reporter to AC Ops and AC CID who were not aware of the matter until when proper findings were made. On getting to the Force Legal Department at Force Annex Area 10, Garki-Abuja the Assistant commissioner of Police (Legal), denied any knowledge of such case from Abakakaliki and referred us to the Force PRO. After furnishing FPRO Olabisi Kolawole with all the details of the matter on September 15, 2015, she promised to find out from her officers in both Abakaliki and Abuja within a week before making any official pronouncement on the matter but failed to call back as at time of going to press.