EXCLUSIVE: How probe panel found NHIS’ Usman Yusuf guilty of fraud, misconducts

NHIS Head Office used to illustrate the issue.

The recent reinstatement of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf, stirred nationwide controversy and left some staff of the agency bemused.

Some of the staff protested at the premises of the agency Thursday last week when Mr. Yusuf reported back to his office.

During the protest, the workers complained about alleged highhandedness of Mr. Yusuf  before his suspension.

The workers’ complaint, which they claimed had not been addressed, was one of the 12 allegations over which Mr. Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, who also set up a panel to investigate the allegations.

Some newspapers reported, quoting anonymous sources at the presidency, that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Mr. Yusuf’s reinstatement because he found the allegations against him largely unsubstantiated after evaluating the report of the panel that probed the offences.

The Presidency or the Ministry of Health has yet to make the report of the committee public.

However, PREMIUM TIMES exclusively sighted the document this week, and can report that cases of misconduct was clearly established against Mr. Yusuf.

We now serve you highlights of the report.

12- Point Allegations

Mr. Yusuf ran into trouble after a petition by a group to the Presidency and Federal Ministry of Health raised 12 allegations of misdeed and fraudulent practice against him.

The allegations ranged from misappropriation of funds, nepotism, misconduct, flagrant disregard for  superior authority and use of inappropriate words on a senior officer.

 Specifically, the ES was accused of mismanaging N860 million budgeted by the agency for training in 2016, flagrant disrespect for rules in the award of contracts for the supply of e-library equipment, award of media consultancy to his brother, and the payment of funds to contractors before supply of goods in connivance with the heads of finance and audit at the agency.

Other allegations include incurring expenditure above the N2.5 million threshold of the ES without approval of the supervising ministry, encouragement of the supply of fake products and substandard goods to the agency, inflation of cost of contract by over 100 percent, dropping of the name of President Buhari for disobedience of the Minister of Health, fraudulent practice in the selection of insurance broker for the scheme and collection of a flat rate of N7.2 million for registration of health management organisations, HMOs.

Mr. Yusuf was also alleged to have flouted the rules in granting financial assistance to a person who did not enroll in the NHIS, while denying such assistance to a staff of the scheme who eventually died. He was also accused of approving N210 million for electronic media operations without recourse to laid down procedure.

Presidential Directive

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the minister was directed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (who was at the time acting president as President Buhari was on medical leave) and the Head of Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, to constitute a panel to investigate the allegations.

This was after Mr. Yusuf was first issued a query over the allegations.

According to a source at the ministry, the minister decided to suspend the ES and set up the investigative panel in line with Public Service Rule No 030406 to allow for uninterrupted administrative investigation because he was not satisfied by the response of the ES to the query.

Panel of Inquiry

PREMIUM TIMES investigations revealed that the Minister appointed 13 members for the panel, with 11 of them drawn from the Ministry of Health, one from the State Security Service and the other from the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission, ICPC.

But the ICPC member declined to sit on the panel citing the need to avoid a conflict of interest.

The panel was headed by a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Binta Adamu-Bello

A member who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES explained that the committee was constituted as an administrative panel by the ministry in compliance with the Public Services Act on investigating a public officer.

The source explained that the panel sat 30 times, while the subcommittees formed by the panel in the course of the investigation met 10 times each.

According to the source, Mr. Yusuf initially refused to appear before the panel but later changed his mind and appeared twice after the chairman of the panel persuaded him to do so.

The source told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Yusuf had to appear before the panel twice because on the first time he appeared in company with his lawyer but the panel said an administrative panel does not require the presence of a lawyer.

“When Mr. Yusuf came back, it was on a Saturday. We had to sit on a Saturday and he still came back in company of his lawyer who he said was there as an observer”.

Panel’s Findings

 A member of the panel said Mr. Yusuf admitted before the panel some of the allegations against him but claimed ignorance of the public service code in his defence.

On the allegation of fraudulent use of N860 million for training of staff without due process, the committee found that the actual amount spent under Mr. Yusuf on training was N919, 644,800.00.

It was, however, noted that the entire processes and Mr. Yusuf’s actions involving all foreign trips, engagement of consultants and documentation of the payment process for the training, involving N508, 036,096.00, were devoid of due process. Therefore, the panel recommended that that sum should be recovered from the training consultants by the NHIS.

The panel also uncovered manipulation of names in the number of staff trained and number of staff on the nominal roll. It discovered that some staff who did not attend training were paid both course fee and staff allowances allocated for training.

It noted that the number of staff of the agency was 1,360 as indicated in its nominal roll. However, the number of staff trained by the scheme based on analysis of payment vouchers was 1,992, while the figure submitted by NHIS was 2,023 within three months. (October to December, 2016).

According to the panel, the Procurement Department of NHIS was not involved in the engagement of consultants for all the training programmes as the transactions were basically between the NHIS boss and the Human Resources Department, in contravention of the standard procurement process.

Kickbacks

Even more damning, the panel also found that some consultants were directed to remit part of their fees into a private account as kickbacks.

For instance, GK Kanki Foundation was reportedly directed by the Assistant General Manager (Insurance) at the NHIS, Vincent Mamdam, to pay N2.8m into a Skye Bank account with number 1040569204 belonging to one Magaji Garba.

The committee revealed that, “The total course fees paid to the training firms was N508, 036, 096, while staff allowances for all the training was N411, 608, 704; totalling N919, 644, 800.”

The committee also noted that funds were diverted through local and foreign trips in form of estacode per day and per diem allowance for NHIS staff, which were in contravention of extant rules.

Panel’s Recommendations

After its investigations, the committee made 17 recommendations to government.

It noted that Mr. Yusuf did not carry out his statutory function as an accounting officer, pursuant to section 20(1) and (2) (a-g) of PPA 2007. Hence, the panel recommended that he should be held responsible for all infractions observed in the procurement process of the agency for the period under review and should be sanctioned accordingly.

The committee said as the head of the agency, Mr. Yusuf was personnaly responsible for all administrative, procurement and financial lapses.

Aside recommending that some amounts be refunded to the agency, the panel asked that Economic Financial Crime Commission be mandated to recover N48, 378,800 paid to Katamaye Firstcall Hospital for the treatment of three cancer patients. Mr. Yusuf also approved the payment, although it is above his approval threshold.

The treatment of the cancer patients had generated controversy in the agency as a N16, 220,600.00 was released to treat each of them, although only one of them was an enrolee of the scheme.

The enrolee was a patient referred to NHIS by Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, but was eventually treated by Katamaye Firstcall Hospital, an hospital not accredited by the NHIS.

The panel noted that the hospital after collecting the money, in turned paid to Belam medicals.

On the foreign trip and training of staff by the agency, the committee noted some discrepancies in the activities and nominal roll.

The committee further recommended to government to carry out a comprehensive staff audit and streamline the bureaucratic setup of the scheme so that it can pursue the health goal it was established for.

EFCC Grilling Mr. Yusuf

According to a member of the committee who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES, the EFCC was grilling Mr.Yusuf after the panel submitted its report and before his sudden reinstatement.

Another official of the Ministry of Health said he could not say if and what process of evaluation the report of the probe panel went through before government decided to recall Mr. Yusuf.

However, the source said: “It would be a bad precedent for the agency and the civil service if the recommendations of the committee were not considered before the reinstatement of the ES.

“This implies that anyone can do anything without being held accountable for their actions. The health insurance scheme is a very sensitive agency which is currently facing lots of challenges and needs to work if we are to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

“The action by the presidency will also mean that ministers in future will have no administrative hold on agencies under their ministries.”

The official urged government to review the Act establishing the NHIS and also ensure that the person appointed to head the agency has knowledge of health insurance.

“With the way things are currently run in the agency, achieving effective health insurance for many Nigerians through the scheme will be a very difficult,” the official said.


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  • Waandu

    Why should I believe Premium Times without sighting the report? They should attach it like Sahara Reporters usually does.

  • Dazmillion

    I will keep saying it. Anyone who still thinks demented Buhari is fighting corruption, should quickly check himself into the nearest psychiatric hospital for urgent mental evaluation.

  • samG60

    Premium times, give it a rest already. This propaganda will not work. Kangaroo panel set up. You can keep it up for another month, when you are tired and Yusuf still remains on his seat without Adewole resigning, I think you’ll give up.

    • Izedomi Ohirein

      Corruption will kill Nigeria, if Nigeria won’t kill corruption.
      Do not be seen as condoning corruption. Corrupt people must pay. Buhari can’t protect corrupt people in his government, if we all speak out.

      • samG60

        I’m with you all the way, just that I don’t believe this is one of such cases. The corrupt minister and the corrupt ministry officials as well as many powerful interests benefitting from the fraud in NHIS do not want this Man in that office because he was stopping their gravy train. They’ve successfully changed the narrative with propaganda. It will only take and independent investigation like that which the house of reps was carrying out to unearth the truth before the minister quickly went to set up a Kangaroo panel. They keep feeding us lies whilst they are raking in billions.

        • Sanssouci

          The problem I have with your narrative is that if it is true that the minister and a powerful cartel are out to get Yusuf in order to maintain their stronghold on the sector, then why the hell has Buhari not sacked the minister? Even by your own admission now you are saying that “They’ve successfully changed the narrative” meaning the minister still remains dangerous as long as he is in office. Anyhow you look at this story a narrative where both Adewole and Yusuf keep their positions simultaneously is at variance with logic, common sense and the fight against corruption. And finally, why reinstate someone that EFCC is still actively grilling?

          • samG60

            I don’t accept that any genuine war on corruption is going on, anti corruption war is just a sound bite. With the level of corruption that we know amongst GMB’s closest aides, some of his security chiefs and several members of his cabinet, several of whom were corrupt before being appointed, we can’t say the fight is genuine. The EFCC never came out to say they were grilling Yusuf. It was always newspaper reports from anonymous sources, Yusuf could well be helping them establish a case against the Minister or some other officials. In any case, EFCC has never put it on record that it was grilling Yusuf. In the case of Yusuf, all will be revealed at the public hearing, so Nigerians will get to see for themselves if any real evidence exists against him or they were just trumped up.

        • Cincinnatus

          You are quite right except that Prof. Adewole may have been pressured to act against Prof Yusuf. These games are seriously complicated, but i am sure of one thing. Prof Yusuf is trying to clean house and very powerful forces don’t want that to happen. The idea of HMOs was feasible when Nigerian economy was great in the 70’s when Nigerian purchasing power was high. With poverty rates around 70%, I can’t see how private HMOs can help the situation. Their shareholders are out for profits not Nigerians well being.

    • olowoyojoel

      Adewole may not resign bcos he probably is corrupt and also bcos its not Nigeria culture to resign in protest.
      He may also be witch hunted if he resigns.

  • SHeikh Messi

    This report has been overtaken by events.
    Saint Buhari has told the D.G to go and Sin no more.

    • Izedomi Ohirein

      EFcc investigation continues.
      Why don’t you cry out about ICPC & CCB not doing their jobs as well as the EFCC. They are all supposed to be fighting corruption.

  • olowoyojoel

    This ES is from superior specie of animals in the animals’ kingdom. He belongs to the more superior specie. In animals Kingdom those who entered the university with score of 80/400 or 12% in common entrance are made ESs, director and becomes professor with just one paper plagiarized from works done in Sudan.
    Herdsmen are invincible, always causing misunderstanding with peoples’ lives.
    Get your PVC guys and vote wisely or perish.

  • AryLoyds

    Nothing will happen to Yusuf , the fulani caliphate shall defend her own!
    Yusuf shall be promoted shortly. After all we still have Maina still playing catch me if you can with EFFCC while been assigned with police protection.

  • Zuby

    Fulanis are grazing on the national treasury just as their cows are grazing on our farmlands. Insanity, corruption and nepotism are the order of the day in this almajiri government.

  • Din

    Nigerians who has genuine concern for the advancement of the country should be on their knees daily and cry to God Almighty to disgrace and dethrone the wicked out of office and enthrone men after His heart. God will surely do it for us. He will surprise us even before 2019 election.

    • forestgee

      But God wanted to take away the problem some cried to Him that He should allow the problem to continue. Now his people are killing innocent people everyday

    • Vi

      Heaven helps those who help themselves.

  • Ologunguntere

    PDP looted the coffers….PDP destroyed the economy…Jonathan and his family wrecked Nigeria…PDP a party of looters. APC has all the good men, all the saints and definitely no looters. Shio!

    • Ologunguntere

      Please please please….no one should talk about nepotism. It’s officially acceptable in today’s Nigeria so everyone can do it.

  • Opekete

    One of the foolishness of this administration is behaving as if they owe nobody any explanation. What is the job of the state house press corp? Why is it that the communication staff of Aso Rock never hold press conference like they do in other democratic climes? Why is it that the communication staffs to quickly rush to make press statements when their principals are accused by the public? Why not take question and answer sessions with the press corp of the state house? So many questions but no answer and that is one way this administration is arming its army of critics.

  • man

    these northerners. all they do is steal,steal, steal.

  • Abatcha Muhammed

    Factually I was puzzled when I finished reading this lopsided and unethical report while it has been known to patriotic Nigerians who are astute and agog on daily scenes that this report on your blog to day has contradicted and refuted the earier report published on October 4th 2017 this proves how sponsored and deluded report it’s. But most of the comments are sentimental, desultory, abusive and religiously bigotry.

    • MO the Observer

      See them, Buhari people.. Oloriburuku.. Na ogun go punish you and Buhari.. Awon ole

    • olowoyojoel

      Like wise your comment is ethnic biased.

    • Jones

      It’s obvious you’re one of the commissioned agents; sure you’re doing your bidding but it’s most unfortunate that you have eyes but can’t see beyond the tip of your nose. The people you sing-praise today, their mates are resigning in far away South Africa, Ethiopia etc. They don’t believe in sit-tight syndrome – the type that has eaten up your paymasters. You should rather wise up and take your destiny in your own hands, cause the people you’re campaigning for today will soon dissappoint you.
      You need to grow up, and leave behind this your cow mentality.