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Alleged Gross Misconduct: Association renews demand for suspension of NHIS boss

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The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria has called for the immediate suspension of Prof. Usman Yusuf, the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme by the Federal Government over allegations of gross misconduct.

Isaac Ojemhenke, Head of Abuja Secretariat of the association, made the appeal while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Monday.

Ojemhenke noted that since the recall of the NHIS scribe on Feb. 6 he had embarked on activities capable of jeopardising industrial peace and harmony in the scheme.

This, he said, had caused division among members of staff along ethnic, tribal and religious lines.
Ojemhenke said that the aborted illegal secondment done by Yusuf, in November 2016 revealed that he brought his nephew, Hassan Kabir Yar’Adua, and posted him to Procurement Department.

He alleged that the appointment was to pave way for a possible arbitrary evaluation and consideration of his father’s company, Lubekh Nigeria Limited, for consultancy in NHIS at a contract sum of N46,798,512.

He said: “Prof. Yusuf engaged in corrupt nepotism in November 2016 by fraudulently awarding contract to Lubekh Nigeria Limited for training of NHIS staff on capacity building at N17,500,000 in Benin, Edo.

“This is gross abuse of office, official trust and evident violation of Section 57(12) (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007.

“On March 5, Yusuf also engaged in a clandestine attempt to move the sum of N25 billion of enrollees fund for investment before the inauguration of the NHIS governing council, but failed.

“He further moved to get an approval for a dubious investment of another N30,000,000,000, without strict compliance to due process as directed by the governing council.

“The council having discovered such gross misconduct by the Executive Secretary, issued him a query, which up to date he has refused to answer.’’

Besides, the union leader alleged that Yusuf diverted some NHIS property under the guise of setting up `Home Office’ before his suspension in August 2016, which was strange to public service rules and abuse of office.

He added that on Yusuf’s recall from suspension, ‘the scribe paid himself N3.6 million allegedly used by him to fuel seven vehicles attached to himself and as reimbursement for purchase of newspapers when he was on suspension.

Ojemhenke further alleged that the NHIS boss refused to refund the sum of N4.3 million which he advanced to himself for a trip to Netherlands, which the Minister of Health never approved in 2017.

He said: “The scheme has also been directed to recover the sum of N14,158, 000 paid to Yusuf and four others for the Netherlands trip and on resumption of office chose to disregard the directives.

“An allocation of seven official vehicles to himself and payment of monthly allowance of N500,000 for fuelling with seven policemen attached to him with monthly expense of N565,000.

“All attempts by the council to make him tow the line of financial discipline and prudency in the face of dwindling resources of the scheme has been resisted by Yusuf.
“The Association is demanding that the government should do the needful as regards the case of Prof. Yusuf, he needs to be asked to step down to serve as a deterrent to others.’’

Ojemhenke added that such action was necessary in respect of the anti-corruption war of the present administration.

Reacting to the allegations on phone, Yusuf dismissed them as spurious, laughable and unserious.
The executive secretary told the News Agency of Nigeria that the workers were merely kicking against a minor redeployment he effected last week.

According to him, the transfers were intended to rejig the scheme and not as a punitive measure.
He said: “How can an individual perpetrate all these 12 allegations running into several billions of naira within a short span of time without insiders’ knowledge or collaboration?’’

He challenged the workers to substantiate their allegations and advised all those fighting against the ongoing positive changes to have a rethink in the interest of enrollees and the country.

Yusuf declined further comments, saying “I am yet to see a copy of their press conference’’.
NAN recalls that Yusuf was earlier suspended from office by the Minister of Health, Prof. Adewole Isaac, over allegations of maladministration and insubordination.

But Yusuf dismissed the allegations, explaining that it is corruption that is fighting back.

According to him, serious are measures needed to weed the scheme of fraud for effective and efficient service delivery.

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N7bn: Unity Bank refutes SPIPRPP’s allegation, says claim is frivolous, unfounded

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Unity Bank Plc has faulted allegation against it by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) that it has refused to return about N7 billion it allegedly owes the Federal Government.

The presidential panel had said in a statement on Monday that the N7bn represents the sum of $15,561,769.99 and N1,488,455,810.90), being excess and arbitrary charges on accounts of some agencies of government by the bank before the institution of Treasury Single Account. The panel further alleged that Unity Bank had agreed on the amount earlier in February, this year, but “has neither proffered a payment plan nor demonstrated good faith by actually initiating payments”.

But in a statement by Unity Bank signed by its Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Matthew Obiazikwor on Monday, the lender denied the allegation stressing that the report of the panel is geared towards misinforming the public and misrepresenting the Bank’s position and nil impact resolutions reached during the reconciliation engagements.

 

Read the full statement below:

Unity Bank has faulted the allegation against it by Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) over the ongoing reconciliation of the affected MDA accounts, stating that the report is geared towards misinforming the public and misrepresenting the Bank’s  position and nil impact resolutions reached during the reconciliation engagements.

In the ongoing investigation, Unity Bank has conducted itself professionally  by providing all evidence of customers’ instructions requested by the panel as it relates to all the MDAs.

Unity Bank had earlier transferred all the balances belonging MDAs to their respective TSA accounts in Central Bank of Nigeria as far back in 2016.

Upon approaching the Bank in 2018 to conduct investigations on the subject of MDAs, Unity Bank, as a responsible corporate citizen, cooperated with the panel accordingly. But out of its own volition, the panel refused to admit further documentary evidence from the Bank when it was obvious that the Bank has no balances kept in its books for the MDAs.

Instead, the panel suspended the investigation as apparently it could not fault any of the evidence presented by the Bank.

The Panel in an earlier letter requested the Bank to accept culpability and pay off a certain sum deemed outstanding which the Bank objected and insisted on completing the reconciliation exercise because the claims presented at this point against the Bank were unfounded and frivolous

It is therefore surprising for the SPIPRPP to turn back and issue a statement alleging sabotage when it abandoned its sitting and investigation midway.

Furthermore, it must be emphasized that, without prejudice to the constitutional power of Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) as the sole agency of government to investigate,  review, reconcile and collect revenue for government,  the bank co-operated fully with SPIPRPP and its consultants in the investigation process and it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Unity Bank has all records to show that it does its banking transactions transparently and in compliance with extant banking regulations and at no time took charges on the MDAs that were outside what is contained in the Bankers Tariffs, which guide banking operations in Nigeria.

The bank therefore maintains that the allegations of SPIPRPP, are superfluous, frivolous ill-motivated and unfounded as falsely presented in a press statement purportedly sent to the public.

We hereby call on our customers and the general public to disregard the allegations which is subterfuge aimed to unnecessarily smear the image of the Bank.

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NGE rejects NASS’ accreditation guidelines for journalists

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The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has rejected new guidelines for the accreditation of media organisations, journalists/correspondents covering the National Assembly, describing it as primitive, undemocratic and blatantly anti-press and anti-people.

The guidelines issued by authorities of the National Assembly (NASS) is due to become effective from June 11 2019.

It demands, among other draconian provisions, that a media organisation wishing to be accredited for coverage of NASS activities should submit a copy of its income tax return for the last two years.

Other requirements include “presentation of evidence of certificate of incorporation of the media organisation, evidence of membership of professional bodies for the journalists, maintenance of a functional Bureau in Abuja (staff strength not less than 5 Editorial staff) and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure.”

Finding the guidelines  vexatious, disrespectful and Draconian, and a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy, the Guild said it cannot stand.

“These guidelines run contrary to the grains of reason, democratic ideals and they are a clear affront on the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution which empowers journalists to freely practice their profession without any gag, muzzling and restriction.

“The NASS guidelines negate the constitutional principle of freedom of expression and run contrary to the African Charter on fundamental rights and the right of the people to know. The Guild strongly objects to these guidelines in their entirety as they serve no public good except the myopic interest of its chroniclers and purveyors.

“The Guild is disappointed that the same 8th National Assembly which benefited immensely from free press in its moments of trial has turned round to put the same press in shackles and chains. We reject this crude abrasion of our constitutional rights to freely disseminate information. It cannot stand,” the Guild said.

The Guild strongly urged all media houses across the nation to rise up and reject the medieval intrusion into the media space in the 21st century, much more in a democracy which Nigerian media doggedly fought for and for which some journalists paid the supreme price.

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FG declares May 29, June 12 public holidays

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Nigerian Government has declared May 29 and June 12 as public holidays to mark the transition to a new government and Democracy Day respectively.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohamed, disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.

Mohammed said that most of the activities formerly performed on May 29 as Democracy Day have been moved to June 12 and that the events slated for May 29, would be low key.

He said world leaders will only attend the June 12 events.

Until June 6, 2018, the Democracy Day was held annually on May 29, the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999, marking the beginning of the longest continuous civilian rule since Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule in 1960.

It is a tradition that has been held annually, beginning in the year 2000.

On June 6, 2018, eight days after May 29, 2018, had been celebrated as Democracy Day, the President Buhari-led government of Nigeria declared June 12 to be the new Democracy Day.

Prior to the government’s declaration, Nigeria Senate last week passed the Public Holiday Act Amendment Bill to recognise June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day.

The bill was passed almost one year after Buhari announced that June 12 would replace May 29 for Nigerians to commemorate the return of democratic.

Although a few lawmakers protested the change in date of Democracy Day, it was, however, approved after a majority of the lawmakers supported passage of the bill.

The passage of the bill means the amendment to the Public Holiday Act has been effected in concurrence with the House of Representatives.

With the assent granted to the bill by President Buhari, Nigeria will observe May 29 and June 12 as public holidays annually.

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