The House of Representatives yesterday ordered the recall of Prof. Usman Yusuf, who was suspended as the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme.
This followed a motion sponsored by Chika Okafor and 34 lawmakers at a plenary presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
They faulted the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole for ordering the suspension, describing it as a deliberate breach of its constitutional duties.
The lawmakers said the allegation that Yusuf committed a series of misdeeds in office were beyond the ministry’s duties of probing into alleged corruption, inefficiency and wastage in the scheme’s governance.
The House directed the minister and the NHIS’s acting executive secretary to stop every process of Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs)’ reaccreditation, pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation.
The lawmakers further directed the minister to allow the suspended secretary to continue with his sanitisation programme in the NHIS.
Chike, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Health Services, described the minister’s action as contemptuous.
He said the suspension was intended to intimidate, silence and punish Yusuf for testifying recently before the committee.
According to him, witnesses who testify before the committees are protected from administrative sanctions and intimidation.
Chike alleged that he had documentary evidence to prove that the suspended NHIS chief was being victimised by the minister.
He said: “The committee was aware that the minister wrote to the Executive Secretary, through the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Binta Adamu Bello, to pay N197, 072,500 for the rehabilitation of some federal medical centres, in a contract awarded by the ministry in 2016.
“The letter also directed Yusuf to pay the money to the ministry’s Account Number: 0020155061015 in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), even when there was no budgetary provisions for the payment in the NHIS’s 2016 budget.”
Chike further alleged that: “In another letter the permanent secretary asked Yusuf to pay $37,838 to six officials of the ministry to attend a World Health Organisation conference in Geneva.”
He claimed that the 57 HMOs in the country have no valid licences, as their accreditation has expired.
He added that there was high level of corruption in the NHIS’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) department, which allegedly fraudulently enrolled up to 23,000 people into the scheme.
Source: The Guardian