The Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf, got police protection to enter his office last Tuesday because he had full support of the Presidency, Sunday PUNCH has learnt.
Our correspondent gathered on Friday that senior Presidency officials believed that Yusuf’s suspension for various infractions by the NHIS board was not tenable, hence the tacit support for the Executive Secretary.
Yusuf, who was suspended by the governing council of the NHIS last Thursday, reportedly stormed the NHIS complex last Tuesday with about 50 policemen who fired teargas canisters at the workers who barricaded the entrance.
He had insisted that the board had no power to suspend him, stressing that only President Muhammadu Buhari could suspend or sack him.
The chairperson of the NHIS governing council, Ifenne Enyanatu, had announced an indefinite suspension of Yusuf, saying it had received several petitions against him.
She said the council had obtained permission from the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, before going ahead with its plan, which was coming over 12 months after the NHIS boss was suspended by the minister and subsequently reinstated by Buhari.
Findings indicated that the police authorities simply obeyed an order from “higher level” to protect Yusuf against planned harassment by the NHIS workers and board members.
Sources said police leadership had no choice but to deploy policemen in the NHIS premises and fortify the operatives around Yusuf as directed by Presidential aides who believed Yusuf was fighting ‘a just cause.’
A police source said, “The fact is that the police are a disinterested party in the matter. They were directed to maintain law and order at the NHIS and this they did by dispatching more men around the ES.
“The order to protect him and ensure his access to office came from senior government officials to the Federal Capital Territory Police Command and it was complied with.”
The source added, “The government has not hidden the fact that Yusuf enjoyed deep support from the Presidency. On the day that he went to the office with armed policemen, a Presidential spokesman, Shehu Garba, was even on national television defending Yusuf’s action and alleged violation of his suspension order.
“This shows clearly that any action taken in this matter has support from the top echelon of government.”
The FCT police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, declined to comment.