An investigative committee, set up by the Federal Ministry of Health, has commenced a probe of the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, who has been accused of fraud to the tune of N960m.
The committee is made up of officials of the Department of State Services, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission, auditors and senior officials of the ministry.
The committee is expected to look into about 50 petitions written by several interest groups against Yusuf.
Although he had been accused of several acts of financial impropriety, Yusuf was finally suspended last Friday by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, after allegedly buying a brand new Toyota Sports Utility Vehicle worth N58m without the approval of the ministry.
The new committee is also expected to look into the accounts of the NHIS as part of investigations into the alleged financial recklessness of the suspended NHIS boss.
Yusuf was also said to have employed about 15 directors from outside the system in violation of civil service rules.
A top source at the ministry said, “The investigative committee set up by the Ministry of Health has swung into action. The committee is treating over 50 petitions written by the Medical and Health Workers Union, Health Maintenance Organisations, Civil Society Organisations as well as a report from the Senate.
“Prof. Yusuf is expected to appear before the panel, which will then issue its report in September. The committee comprises the DSS, ICPC, senior officials of the ministry and some independent observers.”
This is the second committee set up to investigate the suspended NHIS boss.
The Senate had, in March, constituted a five-member ad hoc committee to investigate Yusuf over allegations of financial and administrative abuses.
Among other allegations, Yusuf was accused of “corrupt expenditure of N292m for health-care financing; training; illegal expenditure of N218m for training of members of staff; scandalous expenditure of N400m purportedly for training in October 2016; and N50m for T-shirts and Fez caps despite presidential order banning promotional items and souvenirs.”
Senator Kabiru Marafa alleged that the expenditure, totalling N960m, were without recourse to “any appropriate approving authority” – though the Executive Secretary’s spending limit is just N2.5m.”
The suspended NHIS boss is believed to be an ally of the Director General of DSS, Mamman Daura, a relative of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But a national newspaper (not The PUNCH) had on Monday, alleged that Yusuf was suspended because he refused to grant monetary requests by the health ministry.
The report stated that from September 2015 to November 2016, the NHIS former Acting Executive Secretary had approved between N3m and N15m for the ministry.
According to the report, the amount was above his approval limit of N2.5m. The report also alleged that the minister was one of the beneficiaries of the money.
Efforts to get the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, and the minister did not succeed as they did not respond to telephone calls and text messages on Monday.
But sources told our correspondent that the ministry had taken note of the allegations and would soon respond to them