Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Prof Usman Yusuf has rejected the suspension order slammed on him by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, a decision approved by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.

Usman who came on board as NHIS boss last year, was given a marching order by Adewole, to proceed on suspension for three months following mounting petitions against  him on alleged fraudulent practices and nepotism by concerned groups. The letter suspending Yusuf, who hails from the same state as President Muhammadu Buhari, was given to him on July 6, 2017, directing him to go on three months suspension to pave the way for an independent probe of the mountains of petitions against him. In the three paragraph letter entitled “Suspension from Office” and addressed to Prof Yusuf , Adewole said, “I refer to the series of petitions against you which were forwarded for your comments. I am to draw your attention to your response which has been considered unsatisfactory. I have therefore, directed the setting up of an investigative committee on the various allegations against you.

“Consequently, you are directed to proceed on three months suspension with immediate effect to pave way for an uninterrupted investigation, in accordance with Public Service Rule”, the letter said. However, in a daring tone, Prof Usman fired back at the Health Minister on July 12, telling him that he could not proceed on the suspension as the minister lacks the power to sanction him. He told Adewole that it was only the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who appointed him, that could remove him from office, which has tenure of five years in the first instance and another five, if renewed.

The embattled NHIS boss advanced five reasons why Adewole could not suspend him and why he would not leave his office to anyone else. He said, “By virtue of the NHIS Act particularly section 4 and 8 thereof, my appointment and removal from office whether by way of suspension or otherwise is at the instance of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

In response, the health ministry in a press statement on Friday said it dissociates itself from Mr. Yusuf’s letter.

According to the statement signed by the health ministry’s spokesperson, Boade Akinola, Mr. Yusuf, being a public officer, is bound by the regulations governing the Public Service.

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