Mr. Daniel Davidson George whose certificates were allegedly stolen by his hitherto close friend, Martins Ugwu Okpe, has opened up on his relationship with the latter who is currently standing trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja on the alleged crime.
Where have you worked before now?
I graduated 2002, after my houseman ship, I was exempted from the NYSC based on age, and after that I continued working with the Plateau State Government in 2004. I worked in three general hospitals within that period – that is from 2004 to 2012 and that was when I resigned to go for my residency programme. I have been on the residency programme from 2013 till date.
What is your relationship with Mr. Martins Ugwu?
I think I need to set the record straight on that. They have been writing that he is my boyhood friend. You see, when you say boyhood friend, it gives a deeper meaning than just saying somebody is your friend. When you say somebody is your boyhood friend it means you grew up with that person. To me, I feel that is an unfair statement, that was what I have been reading in the newspapers and I took exception to that. Martins was my friend, I wouldn’t deny that, but he is not my boyhood friend. I have known him right from when I was in medical school, fate just brought us together and I discovered that he is from my village. We are somehow distant relations and this I got to know during this scandal from one of my cousins. I think from what they told me, his paternal grandmother is related to my paternal grandfather. I don’t know how to put it, but his paternal grand relations and my own are related. So, we are distant relations and this I just got to know. We got to know that we are from the same village in the university as I told you and our family house is not too far from each other, so we kept moving together in school. He will visit me in school; I will visit him in Jaji.
He was in Jaji then?
Yes, he was in Jaji.
What was he doing there?
I know he worked in the printing department, that’s all I know.
Is it in a private company?
No, in Jaji Military Cantonment, that was where I have always known him to work until subsequently he told me he had moved on and he is now working with the Ministry of Defence. So, I just looked at it that Jaji also is under Ministry of Defence.
Was he married then?
I got married before Martins. Martins got married two years after my own wedding.
When did you got married?
I got married March 11, 2006 and I think Martins got married in 2008 or 2009.
He was your best man, so when he was getting married, why were you not there?
I was there. I followed him to Kabba.
Did you play any role at the wedding?
Which roles would I play more than to support him with my presence? I think that was the best role somebody could play. It is not easy to travel from Plateau State to Kabba.
Where were you working in Plateau State then?
In Shendam. It is not easy to negotiate from Shendam to Lafia, Lafia to Abuja, then your journey starts again. So, I think the fact that I grace, that occasion was enough.
With the little time you have spent with him, is there anything that showed you that he has this kind of tendency?
To be fair to him, if not for this incident, if you tell me Martins is a bad boy, I will deny because of the relationship we’ve had right from when I was in medical school. I will tell you no. He may have this rugged face, but I will tell you Martins is not a bad guy before this incident and that was why I was traumatized when I got to know that this is what really happen. We’ve been meeting since 2006. I expected better things from him.
But have you met him since he started working in the Federal Ministry of Health?
I didn’t even know he is working in the Ministry of Health. All this while, I have always assumed Martins work in the Ministry of Defence, even, when I came to Abuja. Like I told you, Jaji is under the Ministry of Defence, so I have always believed that he was working in the Ministry of Defence, even when he told me he had been transferred to Abuja.
Have you ever visited him in his office?
Where do I have that time?
You’ve tried to know his house in Abuja?
Yes, but he never gave me that opportunity and I said, well I don’t need to push further, he has his reasons.
Do you have a car?
Yes, I came with a car.
Have you got your own house?
I am still struggling to complete the foundation in Jos.
If I may ask you, how do you feel about what Martins has done to you?
I felt betrayed, that is the summary of the whole thing because this is somebody that even my family members who stay in Abuja complain 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 my family members.
So, you still see him when you come to Abuja?
I told you that we were friends.
How do you feel when you hear them calling him Dr. George?
In fact, I was dazed when the Dental and Medical Council told me on the phone that this is the name Martins is bearing and they showed me the photocopies of my certificates.
Having the same serial number, everything?
Photocopies of my documents- everything.
What about your NYSC discharge certificate?
He didn’t forge it. It was the photocopy of my NYSC discharge certificate. It was part of my documents that I took to Abuja with him.
So, it is the authentic ones that he was using?
Yes, but thank God that they have returned them, I want to say thank God for that because I have all my credentials intact.
What about your friend, which church does he attend?
Most of us grew up as Catholics in my village, but you know when you now start discovering yourself, you may change. But I think Martins worships in one of these Pentecostal Churches now.
And you are seeing them?
We know ourselves. None of them has called me.
Do you think they don’t know about what happened?
I said they are aware. The last time, I told the police when they met me in Jos that 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.
So, if you get that, you will overlook everything?
I think I will have that peace that I really want.
So, now, you’ve not got that peace yet?
Yes. I got a little peace when I saw him on the network news because I am getting some justice. Since this thing happened, nobody has called me and with the Nigerian way of doing things, it may be swept under the carpet, so I said let me move on. But when I saw it, I got some peace, even with my wife; we got some level of joy. But the truth is that peace will be complete if somebody calls me- either Martins or one of his family members to tell me, sorry.
What about his parents?
His mother is alive.
What about his father?
What about your own parents?
My dad is dead, my mom is alive.
So, the mom has not even come to see you?
I wouldn’t blame the mom, she is in the village. But at least, he has relations in town and I expect one of them to be bold enough to at least give me a call and say, please, we are sorry for what our brother did to you.
What are you seeking for now from the Federal Ministry of Health?
What do I want? I think I have everything I need.
You don’t need their job?
Who wouldn’t want a greener pasture, everybody aspires to be in a better place that he was, so if they give me, I will appreciate it.
Did you at any time apply for a job at the Federal Ministry of Health?
Yes, that period I graduated. I think they advertised or people were applying. That was in 2006 or something like that. But I know I applied, sent my credentials and that was even one of the basis why I brought my credentials initially to Abuja.
Were you living together with Martins then?
No, he stayed in Jaji, I stayed in Shendam, but we converged in Abuja for my wedding.
Okay, so that could be the period he stole your certificates?
Yes, of course, I have the photocopies at home. So, it’s when I went back that my friend called me that, they’ve not seen me, I didn’t come to apply for this job and that is when I knew that something was missing from my credentials. And not only that, I discussed with Martins- this is what I want to do. This is what I came to Abuja to do- to submit photocopies of my credentials at the Civil Service Commission. But I got carried away with the wedding; I went back, until when my friend called me. Of course, I didn’t send my documents, but I sent the photocopies which I have at home to him and he submitted. But I didn’t follow it up because I was busy in Shendam and that was how I forgot about it. Nobody called me for interview and I just believe that it was because I was not lucky about the job.
It’s like your glory was somehow used, do you agree?
I think so. I believe so. I believed that my destiny has been tampered with.
Why don’t you want it to be restored?
People have heard my story, friends have called me. People that know me right from childhood have called me. I have received a lot of calls. People are learning from my case, it was an experience.
Which month were you born?
June 1971, I am 44 now.
If you are to rewrite these whole event, which areas would you want to change now?
I would have loved our friendship to continue because I cherish that friendship from the bottom of my heart.
When I was in the Medical School, we spent 10 years, he knows that. People gave up on us, but Martins kept on encouraging me. He was one of the few people from my place that really encouraged me to continue and not give up. Even during my graduation, he was one of the very few people from my family that really attended my graduation (crying).
Don’t cry now. He must have been very good to you. If you are not close to God, don’t you think this guy could have poisoned you?
Why do you think so?
He is an Owukpa man that is the name of my village. He can’t kill me.
Why is that?
An Owukpa man does not kill an Owukpa man. He will not survive it.
Okay, but why were you saying you are not safe the other time?
You know people are working with him. But Martins will not kill me. I am confident of that. He is an Owukpa man. He will not.
So, up till now, you don’t think he can do you any harm?
He may do something like he has done now, which is okay.
But what do you think was his qualification all along?
It has never crossed my mind to think about it.
But with the level of intelligence he has been displaying, what do you think is his qualification?
He is intelligent. I think he may have something higher than secondary school certificate. But I know he didn’t go to the university. You can discuss anything with Martins, he is good.
Even when it concerns your profession?
He is not a doctor, so I don’t see why I should discuss medicine with him. But we discussed politics especially and events in our community. But for medicine, he is not a doctor. So, I didn’t see any basis to go into that kind of discussion with him.
So, how do you think Martins was able to use your certificate for nine years without being discovered to be a fake doctor?
I wouldn’t know. I just told you that we don’t discuss medicine. Since he is not a doctor, there was no basis for that. But we discussed politics, world events and we flow well in our discussions.