THE Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Usman Yusuf, has insisted that the allegations of corruption against him are false, otherwise, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would have found him culpable.
Yusuf has twice been suspended from Office but he insists that neither the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, nor the NHIS governing council has the powers to remove him from office.
On Monday, police officers used tear gas to disperse the protesting NHIS workers who had tried to prevent Yusuf from gaining access into his office despite having been placed on an indefinite suspension by the governing council.
Speaking with the BBC Hausa service on Tuesday, Yusuf said some powerful but corrupt individuals who had been making illegal profits from the scheme, were cooking up false corruption allegations in order to remove him from office.
“The governing board has no right to suspend me as the Executive Secretary,” Yusuf said. “I notified them in a written document that they lack constitutional rights to suspend or even block me from entering my office.
“From the country I came from, if you say someone is a thief, you have to prove that. But since I came on board, I have been going through unnecessary accusations of fraud.
“They’re doing that just to intimidate and stop me from doing my good work. They have failed, I will never succumb to their ploy, I think they have to change plan.
“I told everyone when I came on board that the public funds in the commission belong to Nigerians, no one should tamper with that money, including myself.
“If I’m corrupt, EFCC and ICPC are currently recovering billions of naira from my whistleblowing in the commission and I have never been indicted by the anti-corruption agencies.
“My ordeal as the Executive Secretary of NHIS may be connected with NHIS agents who think that I stepped on their toes and you know these people are powerful and they are well established in the previous administration.
“Those NHIS agents, I told them to pay back their debts which has already run to billions of naira. After initial investigations, I learnt that so many abnormalities need to be corrected.”
Earlier on Tuesday, speaking during Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, also defended Yusuf, saying that the NHIS had been “ethnicised and politicised by some interest groups within and outside the agency”.