Probe panel reveals how Yusuf, suspended NHIS boss, ‘siphoned N919m’ with bloated training

An investigative panel set up by the Federal Ministry of Health to probe Usman Yusuf, suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, has concluded its investigations and submitted its findings to the presidency.

A copy of the report, which was sighted by Punch Newspaper, described Yusuf as one who acted like a saint but was actually “milking the agency dry”.

According to the panel, Yusuf oversaw the siphoning of up to N919 million from the coffers of the agency in the name of payment to consultants for staff training.

The report stated that in some instances, the number of purported trainees was way more than the entire number of employees at the NHIS, while in some other instances, some employees were registered for the same training in two different states at the same time, with the facilitators charging as high as N250,000 per participant.

“The total number of staff at the NHIS is 1,360. The total number of staff trained by the scheme based on analysis of payment vouchers on training was 1,992, while the figure submitted by the NHIS was 2,023 within three months (October-December 2016),” the report read.

“The difference between the number of staff trained and the number of staff on the nominal roll was as a result of manipulation of names. It was discovered that some staff did not attend (training) but payments were made for both course fee and staff allowances.”

Some consultants allegedly paid in huge sums of monies into designated bank accounts as kickbacks to officials of the NHIS.

One GK Kanki Foundation allegedly paid N2.8 million into a Skye Bank account with number 1040569204 belonging to one Magaji Garba, at the directive of Vincent Mamdam, the Assistant General Manager (Insurance) at the NHIS.

“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 report read.

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All these happened without the involvement of the Procurement Department of the NHIS, which is the appropriate department to handle such issues.

The report revealed that all the transactions were basically between Yusuf and the Human Resources Department, contrary to due process.

Also, the probe panel discovered that monies were siphoned in the name of local and foreign trips by NHIS employees, who received estacode and per diem allowances in contravention of laid-down rules.

The NHIS boss received $900 estacode (for foreign trips) and N50,000 per diem (for local trips), but the report revealed that he also collected allowances for trips that were fully sponsored by companies or hospitals.

Yusuf was also accused of paying allowances and salaries to persons who were not employees of the NHIS.

The panel therefore recommended that Yusuf and other NHIS staff who benefitted from such illegal allowances should refund the sum of N82 million.

“The committee found that the total amount spent on the training was N919, 644, 800. The entire process and his actions involving all the foreign trips, engagement of training consultants and documentation of their payment processes amounting to N508, 036, 096 were devoid of due process,” the report read.

“Therefore, the sum of N508, 036, 096 should be recovered from the training consultants by the NHIS.”

The committee also recommended that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, should probe Yusuf and the NHIS for diversion of funds and contravention of the Procurement Act of 2007.

Yusuf, who was a professor of Haematology-Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation in the United States prior to his appointment in July 2016, was suspended by Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, in July this year, following various allegations and petitions against him.

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Allegations against Yusuf were first raised by Kabiru Marafa, a Zamfara State Senator, during Senate plenary on March 21. They include “corrupt expenditure of N292 million incurred by Mr. Yusuf for healthcare financing training; illegal expenditure of N218 million for training of staff, scandalous expenditure of N400 million purportedly for training during month of October 2016 and N50 million for T-shirts and face caps despite presidential order banning promotional items and souvenirs”.

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