7 February 2018

Nigeria: NHIs Controversy - Yusuf's Recall Will Not Affect Corruption Investigations - Lai Mohammed

The reinstatement of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf, will not stop any investigation of corruption allegations levelled against him, the federal government said on Wednesday.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who stated this on Wednesday, however, said he was not aware Mr. Yusuf was being investigated by the anti-graft agency, EFCC.

"I am not aware that the EFCC is investigating the recently reinstated Executive Secretary of NHIS. But if that is the case, I don't think his reinstatement is a bar to any investigation," Mr. Mohammed told journalists at the end of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Mr. Mohammed later clarified his statement. "I didn't say I'm not aware of his investigation. I was precise. I said I am not aware that the EFCC is investigating him and that if it is true, that the fact that he has been reinstated does not mean a stop to it. That is what I said."

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday reinstated Mr. Yusuf exactly six months after he was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, following allegations of gross misconduct.

A panel commissioned by the minister after Mr. Yusuf's suspension later found him culpable of infractions that ranged from nepotism to theft of public funds.

Mr. Adewole sent the report of the panel to the president in November.

However, on Tuesday, the minister received a letter signed by President Buhari's chief of staff announcing Mr. Yusuf's reinstatement. The letter was silent on the report of the health ministry's panel and whether or not the president cleared Mr. Yusuf of the panel's findings or even reviewed the findings.

On Wednesday, the presidency summoned the health minister and the acting Executive Secretary of NHIS, Attahiru Ibrahim, to the presidential villa.

Ayo Osinlu, Head, Media and Public Relations of NHIS, told the News Agency of Nigeria that Mr. Adewole, and the Acting Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Attahiru Ibrahim, were summoned to the Presidential Villa.

Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf [Photo: Concise News]

Mr. Osinlu, however, told PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday night that the summon was not related to Mr. Yusuf's recall.

"Their presence was not in any way related to the reinstatement of the Executive Secretary," he said. "Rather, they had attended to present and defend for approval, some projects of the Federal Ministry of Health with bearing on NHIS at FEC."

Mr. Osinlu had earlier said the recalled NHIS chief did not resume duties on Wednesday.

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