Alleged N919m fraud: EFCC quizzes NHIS managers, invites contractors

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has grilled a few managers and invited some contractors of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

It was learnt on Monday that more officials had also been invited by the EFCC to explain their role in the N919m fraud allegedly perpetrated by the recently reinstated Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf.

Some officials of the NHIS were also said to have accepted bribes from contractors.

For instance, in a report submitted to the EFCC by a panel set up by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, it was alleged that a contractor, GK Kanki Foundation, was directed by one of the managers at the NHIS to pay N2.8m into a Skye Bank account with number 1040569204 belonging to one Magaji Garba.

The report also indicted the General Manager, Human Resources, Uwais Fatika; the General Manager, Finance, Mr. John Okoh; the General Manager in charge of Procurement; an employee of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr. Naziru Umar; and several other companies.

Speaking with our correspondent on the telephone, the Spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said some officials had been grilled while others had been invited.

Uwujaren, however, did not disclose the identities of the persons.

He said, “It is true. Some officials of the NHIS are being questioned by the commission.”

Addressing reporters during a protest at the headquarters of the NHIS, the Chairman of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria at the NHIS, Mr. Razq Omomeji, said some of the persons who had presented evidence against Yusuf at the EFCC were already being victimised.

He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately remove Yusuf so that the investigation would not be compromised.

Omomeji said, “Prof. Usman Yusuf has a case to answer at the EFCC. Our members have been invited. They got documents from us which we also gave to the ICPC. We love the President and even if he appoints a goat to lead us, we will accept it, but this man’s case is different.

“Prof. Yusuf claims to be fighting corruption but his hands are soiled. Some of our colleagues have gone to present evidence against him before the EFCC and the ICPC. He has marked them as whistle-blowers and he now wants to victimise them and we said no.

“We are calling on Yusuf to vacate his seat to enable the EFCC to do a thorough job. A lot has been given to the EFCC and the ICPC. They should make the report public.”

“The man is trying to manipulate records and cover his tracks. We want him to vacate his seat.”

However, there was a face-off between the unionists and supporters of the NHIS boss at the EFCC headquarters.

While the unionists demanded Yusuf’s removal, some workers sympathetic to the NHIS boss accused the unionists of being sponsored by corrupt persons who were against the reforms being implemented by Yusuf.

Our correspondent, who witnessed the mild drama, noted that policemen numbering almost 50 were deployed in the NHIS as early as 7.30am.

The workers who supported Yusuf said only those who were in support of corruption were against Yusuf.

Mr. Uchenna Ewelike, who spoke on behalf of the workers, said they were not paid to support Yusuf but were acting with honest intention.

Ewelike said, “We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to support this focused and result oriented leadership in NHIS under Prof. Usman Yusuf.

“The National Unions of MHWN and ASCSN should caution the different factions of their local chapters in NHIS to re-channel their energy in helping enrolees who are either poorly treated or denied access on a regular basis.”

The President, had on Tuesday last week recalled Yusuf, who was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on July 6, 2017.

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