The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to investigate the alleged suspicious withdrawal of N10 billion from National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) account while the executive secretary was on suspension.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Chike Okafor, chairman, House Committee on Health Services.
In his lead debate, Okafor (APC-Imo) alleged that the N5 billion was withdrawn from the ‘Insured Persons’ Funds account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on 28 December, 2016 and additional sum of N5 billion was also withdrawn 11 January, 2018 respectively, while the Executive Secretary was on suspension.
In his lead debate, Okafor explained that the N10 billion was part of the ‘Insured Persons’ accrued into the NHIS’ Treasury Single Account (TSA) domiciles with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“The House notes that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) was established under the National Health Insurance Scheme Act, Cap. N 42, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 with the objectives of ensuring that every Nigerian has access to good healthcare services and to protect families from financial hardship of medical bills.
“For the purpose of carrying out the mandate of the Scheme, a Fund made up of 5 percent contribution by each insured person is maintained with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy for the administration of the Scheme.
“The House is aware that withdrawal of monies from such designated accounts under the Treasury Single Account (TSA) at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by any government agency is based on request of the Chief Accounting Officer of the Agency.
“The House is also aware that a recent oversight inspection of the Agency by the Committee on Healthcare Services revealed that two suspicious withdrawals of N5 billion each (totaling N10 billion) were made from the ‘Insured Persons’ Funds account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on 28 December, 2016 and 11 January, 2018 respectively when the Executive Secretary of the Scheme was still under suspension.
According to him, “upon inquiry, the Executive Secretary informed the Committee that neither him or any staff of the Agency made any request for either of the two withdrawals stating that the withdrawals were authorized by the Honourable Minister of Finance without the input of the Agency and in contravention of the laws and regulations governing such actions.
“The House is cognizant that such practices, if not checked, will erode public and international confidence in the Scheme and make a mockery of the anti-corruption stance of the present government,” he informed the House at plenary.
To this end, the House mandated the Committees on Healthcare Services and Anti-Corruption to investigate the withdrawal of N10 billion from the account of the National Health Insurance Scheme and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.