NHIS boss rejects suspension, insists only Buhari can suspend him
• He’s Bound By Public Service Regulations, Says Ministry
What seems like a power play is currently going on between the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, and the embattled Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof Usman Yusuf, has rejected the suspension order given to him by the minister, insisting that only President Muhammadu Buhari can suspend or remove him from office.
But in a statement yesterday in Abuja, the ministry noted that Yusuf, being a public officer, is bound by the regulations governing the public service, adding that NHIS is an agency supervised by the ministry.
The statement added that the administrative panel of Inquiry raised by the ministry to investigate activities of the agency has commenced its assignment with specific terms of reference.
Yusuf, who was suspended last week by the minister in his letter dated July 12, acknowledged receiving the suspension letter, but gave reasons why he may not comply with the suspension, saying: “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.
“Except removed from office by the President under circumstances specified in the NHIS Act, my appointment is for a period of five years, subject to further term of the same period at the discretion of the President.
“Although by virtue of Section 47 of the NHIS Act, you are empowered to give directives of a general nature to the Governing Council of the scheme and in the absence of the Council, you have presidential mandate to exercise the powers and functions of the council, but since the powers and functions of the Council do not include discipline, suspension or removal of the Executive Secretary of the scheme from office, the directive in your letter under reference cannot find comfort under the said section or presidential mandate.
“The letter of suspension is not in accordance with Public Service Rules, as no prima facie case has been established against me in respect of the petition referred to in the letter among others.
“The mere fact that there are pending petitions against a public officer, which are yet to be substantiated, does not constitute a ground for suspension under Public Service Rules.”
He said the petitions referred to by the minister were also being investigated by the ICPC, which was yet to submit its findings, adding: “In the light of the above, I wish to humbly urge that the Honourable Minister should allow the investigations of these petitions to follow due process.”