Sunday, 28 April 2019

FG Pays Usman Yusuf, Suspended NHIS Boss N13.8M After Indictment

The Federal Government has paid the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, N13.8m in salary and allowances despite being indicted by a committee set up by the government to probe him, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt.

The seven-man committee, led by Dr. Hassan Bukar, a retired permanent secretary, set up by the government to probe the NHIS boss, had asked the government to immediately dismiss him.

It was, however, learnt that between December 24, 2018 when the panel submitted its report, and April 25, 2019, the NHIS boss had received nothing less than N13.8m in salary and allowances from the government.

Information obtained from the NHIS showed that the suspended NHIS executive secretary received a lump sum of N9,116,129.00 in January for furniture and wardrobe allowances and rent in his Zenith Bank account with number 1004994179.

Yusuf earns N617, 366.02 as salary and N320, 000 for fuelling his vehicle which is usually obtained through his personal assistant. This brings his monthly earnings to a total of N937, 366.02, which translates to N4, 686, 830.1 in five months.

The total sum brings Yusuf’s earnings to N13.8m from the government between December, when he was recommended for dismissal, and April.

The suspended NHIS boss is also said to have taken seven Sports Utility Vehicles belonging to the NHIS to his home and they have remained with him since his suspension.

One of the drivers of the suspended NHIS boss was said to have visited the agency last week requesting more money to service the vehicles.

Documents obtained from the agency also showed that despite receiving allowances yearly to furnish his house, the suspended NHIS boss received several items that were paid for by the agency.

It was learnt that the document was submitted to the panel and it was part of what informed the committee’s decision to recommend Yusuf for dismissal.

The document titled, ‘Summary of release of office equipment to Prof. Usman Yusuf’s home office’, stated that the NHIS furnished a home office for Yusuf between January 4, 2017 and September 17, 2018.

Over 42 items, comprising several Apple laptops and Iphones, UPS devices, air conditioners, chairs, microwave, fireproof safes, stabilisers, photocopying machines, printers and other office items were bought for him by the NHIS.

The committee had accused Yusuf of abusing procurement processes and contravening the Procurement Act.

“And established cases of infraction of the following provisions of the Public Procurement Act: Sections 16(6) and 32(7); and committed infractions of Rule 3125(i) (a) and (b) of the Financial Regulations.”

However, the committee, in a bid to give him a soft landing, did not recommend him for prosecution.

In a related development, a pro-transparency group, United Youths Alliance Against Corruption, has approached a Federal High Court asking the court to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission to prosecute Yusuf.

The EFCC, which had investigated Yusuf sometime last year, was said to have returned Yusuf’s passport to him under controversial circumstances.

However, a member of the pro-transparency group, Solomon Agbo, in a motion on notice brought pursuant to Order 34 Rule 1, 2, 3 Federal High Court (civil procedure) Rules 2009, prayed the court to direct the EFCC and the ICPC to “perform their statutory responsibility of investigating serious corruption allegations against the suspended Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf, and to prosecute him if investigation warrants prosecution, having been supplied with enough materials and information to ease investigation and possible prosecution.”

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