• For alleged N960m fraud, abuse of office
• ‘Yusuf’s letter is gross misconduct, insubordination’
• Panel concludes investigation in 2 weeks
• Health Minister suspends 8 more senior officials of the NHIS
Fresh indications have emerged about the likely punishment of the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, in line with the extant civil service rules, following his rejection of the suspension letter by the supervising Ministry of Health.
The embattled ES had claimed in his rejection letter addressed to the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole and copied to President Muhammadu Buhari, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and many others, that Adewole lacked the power to suspend him.
Yusuf added that he would not submit himself to the probe panel over his alleged involvement in N960million fraud and other infractions, saying that since no prima facie case had been established against him, it was wrong for the minister to suspend him and set up the probe panel.
But senior civil servants who are familiar with the civil service rules on discipline and other issues have stated that the unusual action of Yusuf was a gross misconduct, insubordination and disregard to the extant rules on investigation of errant civil servants and discipline.
Some of those who spoke to The Daily Times on condition of anonymity further disclosed that Yusuf is bound to face certain punishment /sanctions over his conduct on the grounds that what transpired was bizarre and unheard of in the history of the civil service.
They added that the recommendations of the probe panel would determine the level of sanctions/punishment against Yusuf.
Another source in one of the federal ministries at the Federal Secretariat in Abuja also stated that what Yusuf had done was unprecedented.
The source, who spoke in confidence, said, “For a civil servant who has been suspended by his superior to have the effrontery to write him and claimed that he lacked the power to suspend him is a grievous offence in the civil service.
“Yusuf’s action in writing a letter to the minister, having been suspended to say that the minister could not suspend him is a deliberate disobedience to the civil service rules and certain consequences are bound to follow.
“But the gravity of Yusuf’s action and the attendant punishment will be based on the recommendations of the probe panel at the end of the day. But certainly, Yusuf cannot go unpunished for indulging in misconduct and insubordination.
“I’m quite sure that Yusuf is much aware of the civil service rules and has no excuse to indulge in the dropping of the President’s name as we all know that the President is a man of integrity who abhors indiscipline.
“It is even scandalous to for the head of an agency to write a letter to his supervising minister and copied almost the leadership of this country including President Buhari, Acting President Osinbajo and a state governor in a supposed internal matter. What did he want to achieve by that? Certainly, he has been misled and he will realize at the end of the day that he is on his own. You can’t disregard your superior and expect to get a handshake.”
The Daily Times further gathered that the probe panel has commenced sitting since July 12 over the alleged N960million fraud and abuse of office against Yusuf. The panel is expected to submit its report within the next two weeks.
The source also said that the probe panel has been receiving memoranda and documents from concerned parties.
The Daily Times checks revealed that Yusuf received his suspension letter on July 6 while he replied the health minister on July 12 which was received at the minister’s office on July 13, 2017.
But the Ministry of Health had in a statement on Friday by its Director of Media and Publicity, Mrs Boade Akinola, said that the suspension of Yusuf was in accordance with the Civil Service Rule.
She also dissociated the ministry from the letter written by Yusuf.
Akinola said, “Yusuf, being a public officer, is bound by the regulations governing the Public Service. The NHIS is an agency supervised by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“The Administrative panel of Inquiry raised by the ministry to investigate activities of the agency has commenced its assignment with specific terms of reference”.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has suspended eight senior officers of the NHIS to allow unfettered investigation of activities at the agency under his supervision.
The affected senior officers are Olufemi Akingbade, general manager, zonal coordinator south-south zone; John Okon, general manager, finance account; Yusuf Fatika, general manager, human resources and administration; and Shehu Adamu, assistant general manager, audit.
Others are Vincent Mamdam, assistant general manager, head insurance; Safiyanu Attah, senior assistant officer, marketing; Owen Udoma, senior manager, contribution management; and Innocent Abbah, senior assistant officer, planning research and monitoring.
Contrary to the report of a national newspaper which claimed that Akingbade, who was reportedly indicted by the DSS and the ICPC, has been co-opted into the panel to probe Yusuf, Akingbade was one of the eight senior officers of the NHIS directed by the minister to proceed on suspension.
According to a statement made available on Monday by the ministry, the suspension of the eight officers was based on the “activities of the investigative panel of inquiry and the desire to have an uninterrupted and robust investigation of all petitions at the NHIS including security reports on maladministration and mismanagement by officials of the agency”.
The statement added that the suspension was to pave way for thorough investigation of the matter .