A civil society group, Coalition of Civil Society Against Corruption, has criticised the House of Representatives over its resolution to recall the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf.
At a press conference held in Lagos, Thursday, the group said the House should not interfere in the assignment of an investigative panel set up to probe allegations of graft against Mr. Yusuf.
“Let it be on record that over time, the House of Representatives public hearing has become an arbitral of the highest bidder,” said Raji Oyewumi, the head of the group.
“We can recollect the Hon. Farouk Lawan probe panel and Hon. Herman Hembe Security Exchange Commission panel. By this, we ask the House of Representatives to stay clear of this financial scam and allow EFCC and ICPC to carry out their statutory mandate of unravelling corruption allegations even in this NHIS scandal.”
The federal lawmakers had on Wednesday asked the Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, to reinstate Mr. Yusuf within a weekas well as halt the re-accreditation of Health Maintenance Organisations, HMOs, pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation by the House.
The health minister had suspended Mr. Yusuf over corruption allegations, including the procurement of a Toyota Sports Utility Vehicle at a cost of N58 million, approval of fictitious trainings within and outside the country to the tune of N600 million, and approval of N150 million for items like promotional material souvenirs against a presidential directive.
Other allegations against the NHIS boss include the appointment of about 12 directors in violation of Civil Service Rules, splitting and awarding contracts to his cronies, and unilaterally changing the policy of quarterly payment to HMOs among others.
Mr. Yusuf, 54, who was appointed in July last year to head the state-run health insurance provider, denies all the allegations.
“It is on record that his 11 months in office as Executive Officer of NHIS has not enjoyed any positive development,” Mr. Oyewumi continued.
“We, therefore, call on the acting president to comb all other agencies of government and ignite the passion for constructive restructuring and reviewing of the NHIS as just about two percent of our people are enrolees, compared to 75 percent obtained in the USA.
“Since he came into the office almost a year ago, no single addition to the database of the scheme, also the fund of the scheme has been depleted under the same period.”
Declan Ihekaire, an activist, said the group’s main concern is to ensure transparency and accountability, adding that the same treatment meted to Babachir Lawal, the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation who was accused of corruption, should be given to Mr. Yusuf.
“The House of Representatives should not for any reason intervene or interfere with the work of the investigative panel, he (Mr. Yusuf) should step aside,” Mr. Ihekaire said.
“Unless they want us to see them the way Nigerians are seeing them, as the bedrock of corruption in this country.”