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16 months after, NHIS Governing Council suspends Yusuf indefinitely

Following series of allegations against the embattled Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf, the governing board of the Scheme announced the indefinite suspension of the ES with immediate effect.

This development is coming eight months after he was reinstated by President Muhammadu Buhari after he was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, in July 2017.

Announcing the decision of the council to wade its axe on the embattled ES to journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Chairman of the NHIS governing council, Ifenne Enyanatu, said that the decision to suspend Yusuf followed series of petitions over alleged infractions committed by him.

The board amongst others accused Yusuf of allegedly inflating the scheme’s 2018 budget by fraudulently inflating the cost of biometric capturing machines”, and attempting to illegally execute N30 billion in Federal Government bonds.

She announced that the council also resolved to raise an administrative panel of enquiry to probe the allegations levelled against Yusuf and establish the truth or otherwise of the claims. “The panel has three months to complete its assignment and report back to us”, she said.

According to Enyanatu, the suspension of Yusuf by the board was to allow the panel an ‘unfettered’ space to do a thorough investigation.

“We consulted widely and got the approval of the Minister of Health before the suspension of Yusuf,’’ she added.

The council said, for instance, that whereas the scheme’s total annual revenue should be on the increase, it has continued to decline since 2015, blaming this on “shortfalls in the remittance of enrollee’s contributions.”

It noted that the contributions the scheme is getting from the Federal Government enrolees reduced from N6 billion in 2017 to N4.2 billion in 2018 “whereas a recent forensic audit revealed that about N138 billion is currently trapped in commercial banks”.

The Daily Times recalls that in July 2017, the embattled executive secretary was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, over allegations of gross misconduct and fraud.

The minister then set up a panel to investigate the allegations.

The panel later indicted Yusuf on most of the allegations against him and recommended stiffer sanction while the minister forwarded the report to the presidency for its necessary action.

But in February 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari against the recommendations of the probe panel and without informing the Health Minister, reinstated Yusuf.

The reinstatement ignited an uproar, with a group of workers staging a protest at the agency against the development.

Since his return in February, many other allegations of fraud has trailed the controversial ES with the members staff and many management members of the scheme repeatedly calling for his sack.

Meanwhile, Mallam Sadiq Abubakar has been directed to take charge as the acting Executive Secretary of the NHIS.

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