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‘You can’t try it’ — NHIS ES rejects suspension by minister

Usman Yusuf, executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), has rejected the recent directive by the minister of health to go on three months suspension.

Last week, Isaac Adewole, minister of health, ordered Yusuf to proceed on three months suspension to pave way for an investigation following petitions that were written against him.

However, in a letter dated July 12, 2017, Usman gave reason for his inability to comply with the directive.

According to him, under the act setting up the scheme, the appointment and removal of the executive secretary is at the instance of the president.

“Except removed from office by the president under the circumstances specified in the NHIS Act, my appointment is for a period of five years,” the letter read.

“This is subject to a further term of the same period at the discretion of the president.”

The embattled executive secretary, however said although the NHIS Act empowered the minister to give directive of general nature to the governing council of the scheme and could exercise presidential mandate in the absence of the council such powers did not include “discipline, suspension or removal of the executive secretary of the Scheme from office”.

Usman, therefore added that “the directive in your letter under reference cannot find comfort under the said section of Presidential mandate”.

He argued that the minister’s directive is not in compliance with the public service rules as no prima facie case had been established against him in respect of the petitions referred to in the suspension letter.

“The mere fact that there are pending petitions against a public officer which are yet to be substantiated does not constitute a ground for suspension under public service rules,” he said.

He said the petitions referred to by the minister were also being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and and other related offences Commission (ICPC), which was yet to submit its findings.

“In the light of the above, I wish to humbly urge that the honourable minister should allow the investigations of these petitions to follow due process,” he said.

TheCable understands that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has directed Adewole to probe the allegations of fraud against Yusuf.

In a letter dated July 10, 2017, Ade Ipaye, chief of staff to the acting president, acknowledged receipt of two petitions against Yusuf, “dated April 21, 2017, from Solomon Agbo” and “May 12, 2017 from Dr Tunde Ladele”.

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