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Drama as suspended NHIS boss drags health, justice ministers to court

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THE last may not have been heard about the internal crisis rocking the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as the suspended Executive Secretary of the agency, Usman Yusuf, filed a lawsuit against the Ministers of Health and Justice, Isaac Adewole and Abubakar Malami respectively.

This is coming barely 24 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari directed that Yusuf should proceed on administrative bail pending the determination of an investigation into allegations of corruption against him.

In the suit filed on his behalf by Uchechukwu Obi of Alliance Law Firm, Abuja, Yusuf is challenging his removal as the head of the NHIS, arguing that neither the Minister of Health nor the governing council of the agency can remove him from office.

The NHIS was also included as a defendant in the suit.

Yusuf asked the court to determine, among other things, “whether the Governing Council of the NHIS has the powers under the provision of the NHIS Act, particularly Sections 6 and 7 of the Act, to suspend or remove from office the plaintiff (Yusuf) who was appointed by the President”.

He also queried “whether the Governing Council of NHIS has the powers under the provision of NHIS Act to discipline the plaintiff or to investigate allegations made against him as purported by their internal memorandum dated Oct.19, 2018.

“Whether the Hon. Minister of Health under the NHIS Act Section 47 of the Act is equipped with the statutory powers to authorise the suspension from office of the ES of NHIS without the approval of the President.

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“Whether the Governing Council can appoint the General Manager, Legal Department, or any other employee of the scheme to oversee the affairs of the scheme in acting capacity without the approval of the President.”

Yusuf, therefore, prayed the court to issue an order setting aside and cancelling his purported suspension as the Executive Secretary of the NHIS. He also asked the court to reinstate him to his former position, as well as grant “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their members, servants, employees, agents, officers or any person from disturbing, obstructing the plaintiff from carrying on his official duties as the ES of the NHIS”.

It had been thought that Yusuf’s eventual removal from the NHIS would put an end to the face-off between the NHIS boss and the agency’s governing council. But this recent lawsuit means that the saga will continue a little longer.

The governing council had placed Yusuf on an indefinite suspension to allow for an independent investigation into the allegations against him, but he refused to obey the directive insisting that only the President has the powers to sanction him.

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