Reps order recall of suspended NHIS boss

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The House stressed the importance of the NHIS scheme as crucial for the health of Nigerians and financing thereof and highlighted the wellness of the enrollees and the dangers that the helpless enrollees will face in the light of the current situation of things.

The committee chairman also informed the House that Usman had refused a request by the Minister of Health to pay "N197.072m for rehabilitation works in some federal medical centres for contracts awarded in 2016".

The directive that the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Usman Yusuf, should proceed on a three-month suspension is generating controversies as he insisted that only President Muhammadu Buhari can order his suspension.

Consequently, the House, which vehemently condemned his suspension at plenary, said he was being witch-hunted with intent to punish him administratively for speaking out.

"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".

Being an agency under the authority of the Presidency, the Acting President apparently is exercising the privilege of the President according to the NHIS Act, which Prof Yusuf has quoted in his statement of defiance of the Minister's suspension.

Yusuf said that it was wrong of Adewole to have suspended him as "the letter of suspension is not in accordance with public service rules as no prima facie case has been established against me in respect of the petitions".

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Therefore the House resolved to "invite the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, to show cause why he should not be cited for contempt of the House as the suspension of the Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof Usman Yusuf, appears to be meant to intimidate him, punish him for testifying before the House and silence him from further testifying before the House of Representatives, in its constitutional duties of investigation of issues of corruption, inefficiency and waste in governance".

The mere fact that there are pending petitions against a public officer which is yet to be substantiated does not constitute a ground for suspension under the Public Service Rules.

The House resolution stated, "Invite the Minister of Health, Prof".

There is also emerging report that the committee investigating Yusuf has received more petitions against him.

The lawmakers said the allegation that Yusuf committed a series of misdeeds in office were beyond the ministry's duties of probing into alleged corruption, inefficiency and wastage in the scheme's governance.

It was further leant that a petition from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation which contains 23 allegations against Yusuf had also been sent to the committee.

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