ABUJA – Prof. Usman Yusuf, the embattled Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), has dragged two ministers and NHIS to a Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging his suspension from office.
In the suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1220/2018, Yusuf instituted legal action against the Honourable Minister of Health, and Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as well as the NHIS.
The six-page summons was filed by Chief Uchechukwu Obi (SAN) of Alliance Law Firm, Abuja, on behalf of the plaintiff.
According to the document made available to the News agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, the respondents are expected to cause appearance within 21 days after the service of the summons on them, inclusive of the day of service.
The summons read in part thus: “The plaintiff prayed 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 who was appointed by the President.
“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.
“Whether the decision of the Governing Council to suspend the ES of the NHIS taken by 4 out of 11 members of the Council can be said to be a decision of the council in accordance with the NHIS Act.
“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,’’ among others.
Yusuf therefore prayed the court to determine all the aforementioned questions in his favour and consequently sought for the following reliefs:
“A declaration that the Governing Council of NHIS lacks powers under the provisions of the NHIS Act to suspend or remove the plaintiff who was appointed by the President for a five year term.
“A declaration that the members of the council lacks the powers under the provision of the NHIS Act to discipline, or set up the machinery to discipline the plaintiff or investigate allegations made against him as purported by the internal memorandum dated Oct. 19.
“A declaration that the internal memorandum dated Oct. 19 which was purportedly issued by the council and signed on their behalf by its Chairman in which it purported to have suspended the plaintiff as the ES of NHIS is ultra Vires, null and void and of no effect.
“An order of court setting aside and cancelling the purported suspension of the plaintiff from office as the ES of NHIS.
“An order of court reinstating the plaintiff as the ES of the NHIS.
“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,’’ among others.
A copy of the summons was stamped received by the NHIS head office in Abuja on Oct. 30.
The case is yet to be assigned for date for mention to be fixed.
NAN recalls that Yusuf was first suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on July 6, 2017, over alleged maladministration, but was recalled by the Presidency on Feb. 6, 2018.
Again, the Governing Council of NHIS led by Mrs Ifenne Enyanatu, later slammed an indefinite suspension on Yusuf on Oct. 18 over similar allegations of fraud.
The latest action prompted the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, to advise members of boards and governing councils at a retreat that they do not have powers to suspend or meet disciplinary actions on chief executives without recourse to due diligence.
On Tuesday (Oct. 31), the Presidency asked Yusuf to proceed on administrative leave to allow unfettered investigations of the allegations leveled against him.
It appointed Mr Ben Omogo, Director, Administration Office in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of Federation to oversee the affairs of the scheme.
The government also instituted a 7-man panel led by Dr Hassan Bukar, and Mrs Jummai Idako from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as Secretary, to probe and report their findings within two weeks for appropriate action.