Police teargas staff, escort suspended NHIS boss to assume office duties
It was another day for fresh drama at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Abuja as officers of the Nigeria Police Force escorted the suspended executive secretary Prof. Yusuf Usman into the office.
Policemen close to 50 broke the gates to the NHIS headquarters to disperse members of staff, who had attempted to prevent Usman from gaining entry.
The Governing Council of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) suspended Usman indefinitely on Thursday 18 October.
The Chairman of the board, Yantu Ifene, announced Yusuf’s suspension over alleged N919 million fraud.
This morning, armed police officials were seen forcing their way into the premises to escort in a suspended NHIS Executive Secretary, Professor Usman Yusuf
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— The Guardian Nigeria (@GuardianNigeria) October 22, 2018
After his suspension last week the embattled Executive Secretary allegedly vowed never to proceed on suspension as directed by council, insisting that only the President has the power to suspend or remove him from office.
It will also be recalled that Usman was suspended by Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole in July 2017 but was recalled in February 2018 by president Muhammadu Buhari.
Usman in 2017, rejected the suspension order on him by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, also insisting then that only Buhari could suspend or remove him from office.
When he was suspended last year, Yusuf, in his response to the minister, acknowledged receiving the suspension letter but gave reasons why he might not comply with the order.
He said, “By virtue of the NHIS Act, particularly Section 4 and 8 thereof, my appointment and removal from office, whether by way of suspension or otherwise, is at the instance of the President.”
“Except removed from office by the President under circumstances specified in the NHIS Act, my appointment is for a period of five years, subject to a further term of the same period at the discretion of the President.”
A member of the board, who craved anonymity, told The Guardian that shortly after his suspension was announced, Yusuf walked into the boardroom and said he remained the executive secretary of the NHIS, adding that nobody, except the Nigerian president, has the power to remove him from office.
He added that Yusuf remained in his office yesterday, despite his suspension.
The source, who further alleged that Yusuf, on Thursday, boasted that he would turn up at the boardroom, told The Guardian that over 20 policemen, both in plain cloth and uniform, were already within the NHIS premises, adding that as soon as Yusuf left the premises, he would not be allowed to come back.
According to the source, the Council met with the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, who then invited the Director of Legal Services to interpret the provisions of the law, during which he confirmed that the Council has the power to suspend the Executive Secretary.
Chairman of the Council, Ifene Enyantu, told journalists that “I am convinced that if the President is fully briefed about one-tenth of Usman’s atrocities, he would jail him.
“Those who hide under the cover of Presidency to perpetuate corruption know that Nigerians are keenly watching.”
Allegations against the NHIS boss included an attempt to illegally execute N30billion investments in Federal Government bonds, fraudulent inflation of the cost of biometric capturing machines, unlawful staff postings, insubordination, willful defiance of Council’s directive and refusal to reflect amendments made by the Council in this year’s budget.
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