Professor Yusuf Usman, recently reinstated as Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), has again been caught in the headlights of scrutiny of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The NHIS boss was suspended for gross misconduct last June by the Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole. Protest over his reinstatement by staff of the agency was ignored by the Presidency, which reinstated him.
Fresh facts available to SaharaReporters, however, indicate that total reprieve is still far away from Professor Usman, whose portfolio of misdeeds includes the unauthorized withdrawal of N10 billion from enrollees’ funds in the scheme.
SaharaReporters investigations revealed that the EFCC wrote to Professor Usman through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, to demand explanations as part of its investigations into a parade of fraudulent activities linked to the Executive Secretary.
The Permanent Secretary, in a letter to the NHIS boss, informed him of the desire of the EFCC. The letter, dated 2 March and exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, was signed on behalf of the Permanent Secretary by Dr. OJ Amadu, Acting Head of Department of Hospital Services.
“I am directed to refer you to the attached letter from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and to direct you to respond as requested in para 2 (a-f) of the letter. Your response to reach Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health on or before the close of work on Monday, March 5,” said the letter.
Details of what the EFCC wanted were stated in a March 1 letter to the Permanent Secretary. Signed on behalf of the agency’s Acting Chairman by Mr.Ishaq Salihu, Head of Operations, Abuja, the letter stated that the anti-corruption agency needed clarifications to aid its investigation.
Specifically, the EFCC demanded to have the certified true copies of the letter requesting the Health Minister’s approval to second staff from other agencies to the NHIS in 2016 as well as that conveying the Minister’s approval to the NHIS.
The anti-graft commission also demanded a copy of the Minister’s directives halting the salaries of the seconded staff. In addition, it asked the Executive Secretary to furnish it with copies of the NHIS Tenders resolution on the award of Lot 1 consultancy services contract for risk management, Lot 4 media consultancy and Public Relations contract, Lot 8 contract for half-hour radio programme in Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and Pidgin English, Lot 18 contract for the purchase of NHIS project vehicle and Lot 19 contract for the replacement of window blinds with wooden ones as well as procurement of library books communicated to the Health Minister for implementation.
Equally demanded was a copy of the NHIS letter notifying the Minister of the resolution of the NHIS Executive Management meeting that authorized the appointment of Guinea Insurance Plc and Northlink Insurance Brokers for an initial period of three years as against the two years prescribed by the NHIS guidelines.
In addition to other information that could assist the investigation, the EFCC demanded a copy of the NHIS letter seeking the Minister’s approval to remove the Insurance Division from the Department of Planning, Research and Monitoring to the office of the Executive Secretary.