‘Refusal to release N975m to health ministry led to my suspension’

Usman Yusuf, Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), said on Friday that his refusal  to release N975 million to the Ministry of Health led to his suspension.

He made the statement before the House of Representatives panel investigating the crisis that followed his suspension.

The NHIS governing board recently suspended Yusuf after accusing him of financial infractions and abuse of office.

He was first suspended last year by the ministry of health over similar allegations.

Addressing the house committee in Abuja, Yusuf alleged the panel that investigated him was bribed.

He said his “refusal” to grant the request from the health ministry “led to the setting up of a panel to probe me.”

“And the panel delivered as the panelists were given N19 million, even the security too were given money,” he said.

Asked whether he has any evidence, Yusuf responded in the affirmative saying, “I even have documented evidence of how the money was shared.”

He also said the day the governing board announced his suspension was the day he was meant to present a report on the violation of the public procurement processes at the agency.

“Why was I suspended on October 18 and not 19th of October? The 18th of October was the day I was going to present a result of the forensic audit of the activities of HMOs,” Yusuf said.

“Eighteenth of October was nothing but preemptive coup at the NHIS. It was a gang up to stop my fight against corruption.

“These are all allegations that have been recycled. They were all investigated by the ICPC and EFCC; and they found nothing and I was cleared. They wrote to me clearing me.”

Yusuf also denied accusations he illegally awarded contracts at will at the agency, but, however, admitted that a company owned by his brother – Mohammed Kabir-Yar’Adua – was awarded a N406 million contract at the agency.

He told the committee the company won the contract through due process in 2016.

Isaac Adewole, minister of health, insisted Yusuf was justly indicted of corrupt practices.

The minister, represented by Abdulaziz Abdulahi, permanent secretary at the ministry, insisted cases of financial infractions were established against the NHIS executive secretar.

“All the allegations levelled against him are 100 percent correct,” Abdullahi said.

Nicholas Ossai, chairman of the sub-committee, directed Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation and officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to speak on the NHIS’ financial transactions during the next hearing.

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