Workers again accuse NHIS boss of fraud, demand his sack

Senior workers at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) on Monday urged the Nigerian government to ask the Executive Secretary of the scheme, Usman Yusuf, to step aside after again accusing him of fraud.

At a press briefing in Abuja, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria at the NHIS restated some of the alleged misconducts over which Mr Yusuf was suspended from office last year and accused him of refusing to turn a new leaf since his reinstatement.

The executive secretary was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in July 2017 over alleged gross misconduct and fraud.

The minister then set up a panel to investigate the allegations.

According to documents in possession of PREMIUM TIMES, the panel indicted Mr Yusuf on most of the allegations and recommended sanction, following which the minister forwarded the report to the presidency.

But in February, without informing the minister and against the recommendations of the probe panel, President Muhammadu Buhari reinstated the executive secretary into his office.

The reinstatement ignited an uproar, with a group of workers staging a protest at the agency against it.

The head of Abuja secretariat of the association of senior civil servants, Isaac Ojemhenke, who addressed the conference on Monday, said the NHIS boss spent millions of naira belonging to the scheme on his personal needs, in contravention of rules guiding the civil service.

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The association alleged eight different fraudulent acts against Mr Yusuf.

According to Mr Ojemhenke, the executive secretary collected about N3.6 million to fuel seven vehicles attached to himself while he was on suspension.

He said since his recall to office, Mr Yusuf has embarked on activities capable of jeopardising industrial peace and harmony in the scheme.

On Monday, the senior workers also alleged that Mr Yusuf fraudulently awarded a contract of N17.5 million to his brother’s company.

This, Mr Ojemhenke said, was for the training of NHIS staff on capacity building on communication strategy in public service delivery which took place in Benin City, Edo State.

Mr Yusuf was also alleged to have brought his nephew, Hassan Kabir, to the procurement department of the scheme to pave way for him to award a contract of N46,798,512.00 to his brother’s company.

The association also said Mr Yusuf attempted to move N25 billion of enrollees fund for investment barely 24 hours before the inauguration of the NHIS governing council.

Mr Yusuf was also accused of disregarding a directive to recover N14,158,000.00 paid to him and four others for a trip to The Netherlands.

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The association said the ES has continued to pay himself “undeserved and illegal allowances”, while allegedly claiming he has the ears of the authorities and such, nothing will happen to him.

Mr Ojemhenke described Mr Yusuf’s conduct as a clear case of financial recklessness, abuse of office and breach of financial regulations.

In an attempt to end their dispute with him, the workers said they met with Mr Yusuf before his suspension but he rebuffed them.

As part of its protest, the association had earlier sent a petition to the governing council of the agency.

They urged the federal government to do the needful by asking the NHIS boss to step aside to serve as deterrent to others.

Mr Yusuf could not be reached on his known telephone numbers. However, reacting to the allegations, the chairperson of the NHIS governing council, Ifenne Enyanatu reaffirmed that her council received petitions by the group levelling several other allegations against Mr Yusuf.

“All those allegations they made in their press statement, they have also sent as petitions to the council.

“The council will be meeting on the 17 and 18 of October and each one of these issues is going to be tabled because we want answers” she said.

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