Buhari orders Usman Yusuf to go on ‘administrative leave’ as FG probes NHIS scandal

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The Federal Government has set up a seven-man panel to investigate the alleged infractions listed by the Governing Council of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, against the embattled Executive Secretary of the agency, Prof. Usman Yusuf.

President Muhammadu Buhari also directed Yusuf, who has been the subject of allegations of corruption and high handedness, to proceed on administrative leave effective from November 5.

The ES was suspended by the board of the NHIS on October 18 over alleged fraud and infractions, making it the second time he will be suspended over similar allegations since he assumed office in 2016. In both cases, he questioned the powers of the minister of Health and the council to suspend him.

President Buhari’s directive was conveyed in a letter signed by the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, on Wednesday, via the permanent secretary in the office, Olusegun Adekunle.

“This is to allow for unfettered investigation into allegations of infractions and financial malfeasance levelled against him by the Governing Council of the institution and other stakeholders.

“In his absence, Mr. Ben Omogo, a Director of Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation has been deployed to oversee the affairs of the Scheme,” Adekunle said.

A seven-member panel has also been constituted to probe the allegations against Professor Yusuf.

The panel, headed by Hassan Bukar, has two weeks to submit its report. The panel’s terms of reference include to investigate infractions alleged against the executive secretary and determine his culpability; identify, investigate and make recommendations on the issues that led to the frosty relations between the Governing Council and the ES; examine all governance challenges in NHIS and make appropriate recommendations among others.

The formal inauguration of the panel is scheduled for November 2 in the office of the SGF  at 3pm.

Members of the panel are former permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Bukar Hassan; Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, Director, HPRS, FMH; Mr. Adewale Owolo, Director, Audit, (AuGF); Mr. Shamsuddeen Bello, Deputy Director Expenditure (OAGF), Mr. Ishaq Yahaya, Director, Certification and Compliance, BPP; Dr. Ekanem John Udoh, Director of Science (FMS&T); and Mrs. Jummai Idakwo, Director, Administration (OSGF).

“It has however observed with deep concern the growing tension between Boards and Chief Executives and their attendant implications for governance. For the avoidance of doubt, government will neither tolerate acts of indiscipline from any appointee nor will it harbour any acts of corruption. Government will however ensure that due process is followed strictly in trying to maintain discipline and probity in public service.

“With specific reference to recent developments at the National Health Insurance Scheme, Mr. President has after due consideration approved the establishment of an independent fact-finding panel to investigate the alleged infractions by the Executive Secretary and report back within two weeks,” part of the letter read.

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