Backed by Policemen, Suspended NHIS Boss Forcibly Resumes Duties

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• PDP queries Buhari

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Backed by heavily armed policemen, the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf, forcefully resumed office yesterday at the NHIS Headquarters at Jabi, Abuja.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has therefore, challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to come out clear on why he has been protective of Yusuf, who has been variously indicted for alleged corrupt practices, including the alleged siphoning of over N25 billion from the coffers of the agency.

Yusuf was suspended last Thursday by the NHIS Board over alleged infractions.

The council had noted that he would not be allowed into the office premises so as to allow the administrative panel do a thorough job.

But with heavy police presence within the NHIS Headquarters, it was obvious that the Executive Secretary would not just go without a fight as he had challenged the power of the council to suspend him, insisting that it is only the president who appointed him that can remove him from office.

He defied the council and arrived office at around 9 a.m yesterday accompanied by his aides and forced his way into the office after one of his aides broke the padlock to the gate so as to allow the vehicle of the suspended Executive Secretary into the premises.

While the workers were still trying to resist, the police who were deployed to the agency to keep law and order teargassed the crowd.

Reacting to the development, the main opposition party described it as reprehensible that an administration, which prides itself as fighting corruption would continue to provide official cover for its officials indicted of corruption.

The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, called on Nigerians to hold President Buhari responsible for the corruption in NHIS, as well as the siphoning of trillions of naira from various agencies, under his watch.

The PDP said with yesterday’s forceful repression of the suspension of the Yusuf by the NHIS Governing Council over humongous corruption allegation and abuse of office, it had become clear that the Presidency cabal is directly complicit in the NHIS fraud and is seeking every means to ensure a cover-up.

The party wondered why the Presidency has vehemently opposed any form of investigation into the activities of NHIS under Yakubu.

The party queried, “Is it true that there are fears in the Presidency that an investigation will expose the alleged involvement of individuals close to the President in the reported fraud in the scheme?”

Ologbondiyan said Nigeria could recall that this same Executive Secretary was in July 2017 suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole over alleged gross misconduct and corrupt practices, only for President Buhari, upon his return to the country in February, 2018, reinstated him while he was still a guest of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Ologbondiyan said, “We ask: Why is the Presidency protecting an official of government openly indicted for corruption? What is the Presidency trying to conceal by ensuring that Prof. Yusuf remains the Executive Secretary after his indictment?”

The PDP said Nigerians should note how the Presidency had continued to provide official cover for accused official even without the slightest investigation on the allegations and sanction by both the minister and the Governing Council.