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Health Minister asked to recall suspended NHIS boss

16 July 2017, 03:31 | Ross Houston

I will not obey your suspension order - NHIS boss dares Buhari's minister

Politics Nigeria: Lawmakers Order Minister to Reverse Suspension of 'Corrupt' NHIS Boss

The House of Representatives on Wednesday ordered the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, to within a week recall the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf.

For months now, the NHIS has been enmeshed in a multi-dimensional crisis set off by allegations of N860m procurement fraud and other breaches of procedure involving the Executive Secretary, Prof Usman Yusuf.

According to a report by Premium Times, Yusuf, in a letter dated July 12, 2017 said he would not comply with the July 6, 2017 suspension order.

It also asked the minister to halt the re-accreditation of Health Maintenance Organisations, HMOs, pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation of the scheme by the House.

The lawmakers who queried the legality or otherwise of the suspension imposed on the NHIS Executive Secretary, alleged that the Minister who was not suspended by the President despite series of documentary petitions against him, has no moral justification to suspend the NHIS boss for 90 days.

The House in a unanimous decision on Wednesday resolved to invite the Minister of Health to explain the reasons for the suspension and also directed him to recall Mr. Yusuf.

The NHIS chief has denied any wrongdoing.

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"The letter of suspension is not in accordance with Public Service Rules as no prima facie case has been established against me in respect of the petition referred to in the letter. The mere fact that there are pending petitions against a public officer which have yet to be substantiated does not constitute grounds for suspension".

"As you are aware, the petitions referred to in your letter are now being investigated by the ICPC which is yet to submit its report".

In the two petitions sighted by Saturday Vanguard, the two groups had called on the Acting President to cause the EFCC and the ICPC to investigate the high level of corruption and nepotism promoted by Prof Yusuf in the NHIS, which had caused the Federal Government billions of Naira and stifled the growth of health insurance as a result.

Responding to his letter however, the Ministry of Health, in a press statement issued in Abuja on Friday, dissociated itself from Yusuf, saying, as a public officer, he was bound by the regulations governing the Public Service.

Leading the debate on the motion, Okafor who noted that the House has the right to protect witnesses and support the anti-graft crusade of the present administration, disclosed that the Committee is in possession of documents which showed how the Ministry wanted to turn the NHIS into an impress agency.

"The NHIS is an agency supervised by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Administrative Panel of Inquiry raised by the Ministry to investigate activities of the agency has commenced its assignment with specific terms of reference", the spokesperson said.



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