An evidence has emerged that the administrative Committee set up by the minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, to investigate petitions against the executive secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Prof Usman Yusuf, were alleged to have received the sum of N19 million as sitting allowance from the coffers of the NHIS which is enrollees contributions.
Investigation has revealed that the sum of N19,184,000 was withdrawn from NHIS Treasury Single Account and paid out as sitting allowance to 21 members of the Committee on September 14, 2017. The Committee worked for only three weeks. The Committee was composed of minister’s nominees from the Ministry of Health with Binta Adamu Bello, the permanent secretary as the chairman. The 13 directors are: Dr Wapada Balami, Halad Maymako Keana, Anthony Hassan, Gambo Muazu, Olayemi O. Sotomi, Laurat A. Elayo, David Aku and Paul E. Damian. Others are Araoye Segilola, Mohammed B. Orire, Evans Udoekanem, Dr. J. Amedu and Jamiu Adelabu Abdulkareem. The four assistant directors are: Dickson E. Ohenmwen, Peter C. Uzoije, Charity Oyinyechi Chibuzo and Abdulqadir Bello. The three members classified as the permanent secretary’s security detail are: Garba Mustapha, Kolawole Kareem Rasaki and Abubakar Mohammed. Breakdown of the whopping amount paid to the committee members revealed that the permanent secretary, Ministry of Health, Binta Adamu Bello was paid N1, 280,000 while each of the 13 Directors on the committee received N960, 000 and four Assistant Directors took home N640, 000. Also the three of the PS’s security detail were not left out of the buffet as each of them received N320, 000. The sum of N1, 904,000 was also paid to the secretary of the Committee Dr. O. J. Amedu to purchase stationary. It would be recalled that on July 6, 2017 the executive secretary of the NHIS Prof Usman Yusuf, was suspended for three months by the minister of Health based on unsubstantiated petitions written against him by Unions. His suspension came 10 days after testifying under oath before the House of Representatives Committee on Health investigating corruption perpetrated by Health Maintenance Organisations (HMOs) where he blew the whistle on massive corruption by HMOs. The minister’s action was said to be illegal as it violated the NHIS Act particularly sections 4 and 8 where it states that the appointment and removal from office of the executive secretary whether by way of suspension or otherwise is at the instance of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who appointed him. The House of Representatives passed a motion on the floor of the House condemning the minister’s action and demanded that the he should be recalled within a week. The House of Representatives saw the suspension of Prof Yusuf as an act of intimidation meant to silence a witness. The main purpose of the motion of the House of Reps. was to protect a witness in an ongoing investigation and to protect any future potential witness against the intimidation and abuse of power of a superior. The minister of Health has defied the House and has recently on July 6, 2017 at the expiration of the three months suspension, extended it indefinitely. It has been severally reported in the past that Prof Yusuf’s persecution by the minister and permanent secretary is because of his steadfast refusal to allow the NHIS be used as their ATM. For example the PS was alleged to have asked Prof Yusuf to pay N197 million for contracts done in 2016 by the ministry, and pay $ 37,000 for the trip of ministry officials Prof Yusuf’s refusal is said to be based on an existing Circular from the then SGF Ambassador Babagana Kingibe to all MDAs criminalising such actions.