The embattled Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Yusuf Usman, has allegedly vowed never to proceed on suspension as directed by the NHIS Governing Council, insisting that only the President has the power to suspend or remove him from office.
Yusuf, who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016, was first suspended in July last year over allegations of N919million fraud.
He, however, 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.
The NHIS governing council on Thursday, October 18, suspended him indefinitely over alleged petitions against him and executive infractions that could not be ignored.
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, saying: “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 further term of the same period at the discretion of the President.”
The President later recalled him in February this year.
A member of the board, who craved anonymity, told The Guardian yesterday 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 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: “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.
Efforts to get Yusuf’s reaction proved abortive, as he did not respond to calls as well as text massages sent to his mobile line.