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EXCLUSIVE: Suspension of NHIS ES extended indefinitely

Isaac Adewole, minister of health, has extended the suspension of Usman Yusuf, executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), indefinitely.

In July, Isaac Adewole, minister of health, suspended Yusuf for three months over allegations of fraud.

Adewole had set up a committee to probe the NHIS ES, saying his response to the petitions written against him were “considered unsatisfactory”.

In a recent correspondence seen by TheCable, Adewole said the investigative committee found Yusuf culpable in the discharge of his responsibilities.

The minister said while the report of the committee had been forwarded to the president, Yusuf’s suspension had been extended “pending the decision of Mr President”.

“Please refer to my earlier letter ref C.405/1/132, dated 6th July 2017, suspending you from office for three months to allow for an interrupted administrative, investigative committee to look into the various allegations against you including that of monumental fraud, gross abuse of office and nepotism inimical to the NHIS scheme under your leadership,” the letter read.

“While awaiting Mr President’s directive and considering that the committee found you culpable in many areas of your performance as the executive secretary of the NHIS, I am further extending your suspension from office pending the decision of his Excellency Mr President C-in-C on the report.”

Back in July, Yusuf rejected the directive of the minister, arguing that under the act setting up the scheme, the 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,” he told Adewole in a letter dated July 12.

“This is subject to a further term of the same period at the discretion of the president… 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 the petitions referred to by the minister were also being investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), which had not submitted its findings as of then.

Insiders had told TheCable that since Yusuf was appointed on July 29, 2016, he had been violating every procurement law, dishing out contracts to cronies.

TheCable learnt that the final straw was the purchase of a Prado SUV by Yusuf for N58 million shortly before Ramadan, though his approval limit was N2.5 million.

A number of Prado SUVs were attached to his office, but he still went ahead to buy a new one, according to insiders.

Yusuf had denied all the allegations, maintaining that he was victimised for fighting corruption in NHIS.