The House of Representatives on Tuesday began an investigation into the alleged gross misconduct and corruption levied against the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf.
The move followed a motion under matters of urgent public importance by Rep Diri Douye (PDP-Bayelsa) at a plenary presided over by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
Prof. Yusuf was on Oct. 18 suspended by the Governing Council of the NHIS over alleged fraud, insubordination, criminal breach of Procurement Act, self-aggrandisement and arbitrariness, among other offences.
However, Yusuf responded in a memo that only President Muhammadu Buhari had the power to suspend or sack him.
Protest, however, erupted on Monday at the headquarters of the agency in Abuja as angry workers barricaded the entrance against Yusuf, preventing him from entering the office.
They demanded for his resignation.
It took the efforts of policemen who fired teargas at the workers to enable the executive secretary to gain entry into his office.
Speaking at the plenary, Douye, who sponsored the motion, expressed concern that the agency, instead of being a theatre of health, had degenerated into a theatre of war.
”The House takes cognizance that the Governing Council of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) announced the suspension on Thursday, 18 October, of Professor Usman Yusuf over allegations of fraud and severe infractions, including but not limited to public procurement infringements, unlawful staff posting, wilful defiance of council directives, violation of Federal Government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy and superfluous arrogation of projects.
”The House is aware that the council had issued the NHIS executive secretary queries dated May 25, 2018 and another dated June 4, 2018, prior to the suspension.
He said the House was also aware that the latest pandemonium came barely five months after the NHIS executive secretary was reinstated by President Muhamnadu Buhari from an indefinite suspension slammed on him by his supervising Ministry of Health in July 2017 over similar alleged gross misconduct, corruption and nepotism.
”The House notes that the suspended executive secretary disputed the authority of the council to suspend him and had on Monday, Oct 22, violently broke into the Abuja head office of the scheme, aided by almost 50 heavily armed police, overpowered the security men as well as staff at the premises, including women were indiscriminately tear-gassed and manhandled,” he said.
He said it was disheartening that such critical sector on which the hope of the universal health delivery was hinged, had been faced with so many scandals.
Other lawmakers who supported the motion include: Reps Tobi Okechukwu (PDP-Enugu), Emmanuel Oker-Jev (PDP-Benue) and Sergius Ogun (PDP-Edo).
However, Rep Edward Pwajok (APC-Plateau), who urged the House not to over-flog the matter, called on the lawmakers to look into whether the Governing Council of the NHIS acted within its powers to suspend Yusuf.
According to him, appropriate committee should investigate if there were infractions on the part of the council since the country is governed by laws.
When the speaker put the motion on a voice vote, the lawmakers unanimously supported it.
The speaker, therefore, urged that an ad hoc committee be set up to investigate the issue and report back within four weeks.