President Muhammadu Buhari has recalled the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, who was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on July 6, 2017, has learnt.
In a letter with reference number, ‘SH/COS/10/6/A/29’, signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, the President informed the minister of Yusuf’s recall, adding that he (Yusuf) had been “admonished to work harmoniously with the minister.”
The letter, it was learnt, was sent to the minister on Tuesday evening. When our correspondent called the minister to confirm the new development, Adewole only said, “Yes, what you have heard is true.” He refused to answer any further inquiries about the issue.
Sources at the federal Ministry of Health also confirmed Yusuf’s reinstatement. They did not, however, disclose when the NHIS boss would resume.
The letter made no mention of the probe Yusuf was facing at the EFCC.
Incidentally, Yusuf was being grilled by the men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday when his letter of reinstatement was sent to the Federal Ministry of Health.
Yusuf, who is being probed by the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, was accused of perpetrating fraud to the tune of N919m.
A committee set up by the minister had submitted a probe report to the President last September accusing Yusuf of abuse of office.
In the report which was compiled by senior officials of the health ministry, the Department of State Services and the ICPC, the panel described Yusuf as a public servant who “portrayed a holier than thou attitude but at the background, milked the agency dry” by conniving with others to perpetrate fraud to the tune of over N919m.
According to the panel, the N919m was dubiously given as payment to consultants for staff training.
The committee said as the head of the agency, Yusuf was personally responsible for all administrative, procurement and financial lapses.
According to the report, “His (Yusuf’s) deceitful attitude coupled with ‘name dropping’ of Mr. President as having sent him to sanitise the NHIS but he caused more harm than good to the scheme.”
The committee, therefore, recommended that the EFCC probe the agency for diversion of funds and contravention of the Procurement Act of 2007.
The report stated that Yusuf contravened the Procurement Act of 2007 through nepotism and other irregular award of contracts and should be sanctioned in line with the provision of the Act.
Explaining how the alleged staff training scam took place, the committee said in some instances, the number of trainees was far more than the entire number of employees at the agency while in some other instances, some employees were registered for the same training in two different states at the same time.
Most of the consultants were said to have charged about N250, 000 per participant.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported in December that Yusuf, who is close to the cabal in the Presidency, had been making moves to return to his post.
When our correspondent reached out to him to respond to the allegations levelled against him last December, Yusuf had said, “Fck you, and fck the minister.”
Meanwhile, it was learnt that Yusuf was grilled for over 12 hours at the EFCC on Monday and Tuesday.
A source at the EFCC said, “The NHIS boss was with us all through Monday and returned on Tuesday for more questioning. His passport was also seized. He will return on another day for more questioning.”