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Breaking: Police fire teargas at protesting NHIS workers

By Anthony Ogbonna and Johnbosco Agbakwuru

ABUJA – WORKERS at the headquarters of the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, early morning today clashed with the Police allegedly protecting the suspended Executive Secretary of the scheme, Prof. Usman Yusuf who showed up at office.

Workers of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) protesting at the gate of the scheme’s headquarters as police stop them

 

The police, however, fired teargas canisters at workers of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

The workers had taken over the place at about 8am but a team of police officers tried to dispel the workers as they led the suspended Executive Secretary to his office.

The protesting workers were over powered by the police who fired teargas canisters in the air to dispel them.

Some of the workers sustained injuries as the scampered in different directions after inhaling the tear gas.

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Yusuf was, last week, suspended by the scheme’s governing board for allegedly inflating the scheme’s 2018 budget.

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In a press briefing last week, the board said it suspended Yusuf for “fraudulently inflating the cost of biometric capturing machines attempting to “illegally execute N30 billion in federal government bonds….superfluous arrogation of project vehicles” among others.

It had also accused Yusuf of embarking on travels “in defiance to council directive.”

Prof Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health in July, 2017 but was called back by the presidency in February, 2018.

Chairman of the governing council, Dr Eyantu Ifenne, at a briefing in the scheme’s headquarter on Thursday last week said, based on the review of various documents on allegations leveled against him, they have resolved to constitute an administrative panel to investigate and submit their report in the next three months.

She said, “The ES is suspended indefinitely to pave unfettered space for the committee to do thorough investigations into the matter.”

Dr Efene added that approval was gotten from the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole.

“The council has also resolved that Dr Abubakar Sadiq Adamu immediately step into the acting capacity of the ES to allow activities to run smoothly.”

However, Yusuf had, last week, rejected his suspension by the board and had said that he would resume his normal duties today.

But the workers, who come out earlier today, had blocked the entrance of the office in Abuja to prevent Yusuf from gaining access into the premises.

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However, Yusuf was able to gain entrance into the NHIS headquarters with the aid of some men of the police force who shot teargas canisters to disperse the protesting workers.

Soon afterwards, heavy security personnel took over the premises, with some seen at the gate.

Moreover, while the drama went on, some staff members loyal to the executive secretary succeeded in breaking the keys to the gate, thereby gaining access.

As at the time of filing this report, the protest was still on.

 


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