Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has called for fair hearing in the ongoing probe of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, who was controversially suspended over allegations of N960 million fraud. A highly placed source in the Presidency told our correspondent last night that the acting president had, in a letter dated July 13 and written to the Ministry of Health, noted the suspension.
The source also quoted the acting president as demanding that his office be briefed after the investigation.
Meanwhile, an indicted former acting Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mr Femi Akingbade, has been suspended alongside seven senior officials of the scheme.
The suspension letter was signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Binta Adamu Bello.
The scheme has been mired in crisis after the suspension Professor Usman Yusuf by the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewale.
The Federal Ministry of Health set up an investigative committee to probe Yusuf over allegations of N960million fraud, which he has denied.
Analysis of official correspondences between the health ministry and NHIS revealed that Yusuf was actually suspended for his refusal to grant the ministry’s dozens of requests for sponsorship of its officials to foreign events, execution of phoney contracts, chartering aircraft for the minister – all running into hundreds of millions of naira, among others.
The Department of State Services (DSS) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC) in separate reports indicted Akingbade for corruption and called for his suspension and prosecution.
The panel, comprising mostly health ministry officials, is headed by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mrs Binta Adamu Aliyu. Other members are head of hospital services, head of human resources, director finance, director procurement, director ICT, special assistant to the health minister, special assistant to the permanent secretary, one representative each from DSS and ICPC, two secretariat staff and two others.
Daily Trust reported that Akingbade who was in Benin as zonal coordinator was “hurriedly” transferred back to Abuja on Thursday and redeployed as General Manager, Zonal Heads. He was again co-opted by Mrs Binta as a member of the committee on Friday.
Findings show that most of the ministry officials appointed into the committee had benefitted at one time or another, from the numerous sponsorship of foreign trips, which degenerated into the current crisis after Yusuf refused to accede to them, citing 2008 Federal Government circular.
For instance, Mrs Bello was the one that signed the controversial memo, with reference number DFA/CORR/001, dated March 18, 2017, forwarding the health minister Professor Adewale’s request for N197 million from the NHIS “intervention fund” for payment of “contracts awarded for rehabilitation and equipping” of seven Federal Medical Centres (FMCs).
Other NHIS officials suspended are: Mr John Okon, GM, Finance Account; Mr Yusuf Fatika, GM, Human Resources and Administration; Mr Shehu Adamu, AGM, Audit; Mr Vincent Mamdam, AGM, Head Insurance; Mr Safiyanu Attah, Senior Assistant Officer, Marketing; Mr Owen Udo Udoma, Manager, Contribution Management; and Mr Innocent Abbah, Senior Assistant Officer, Planning Research and Monitoring.