• Lift suspension on Jibrin
By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives yesterday directed its joint Committee on Health Services, Finance and Anti –Corruption to investigate illegal withdrawal of the N10 billion from National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) fund by the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria ( CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele.
The House equally summoned Adeosun, Emefiele and Accountant General of the Federation ( AGF), Ahmed Idris to offer explanations over the issue.
The NHIS fund were domiciled in the Federal Government Treasury Single Account (TSA) in the Central bank of Nigeria.
This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by the chairman of the House committee on Healthcare Services, Mr. Chike Okafor at the Thursday plenary presided by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Presenting the debate, Okafor disclosed that during a recent oversight inspection of the NHIS by his committee, it was discovered that there were two suspicious withdrawals of N5 billion each from the “Insured Persons” funds account with the CBN on the 28 December 2017 and 11 January 2018 respectively when the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Professor Usman Yusuf was under suspension.
Okafor, who claimed that neither Yusuf nor any staff of the agency authorized the two withdrawals, alleged that the withdrawal of the monies were authorized by Adeosun in contravention of the laws and regulations governing the action.
He maintained that if such practices is not checked, it will erode public and international confidence in the NHIS scheme and make a mockery of the on-going anti-corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
Contributing to the motion, Edward Pwajok (PDP: Plateau) insisted on the issuance of summon to Adeosun to explain why she authorized the withdrawal of the monies.
Oghene Emma Egoh (PDP: Lagos) said it was incumbent on the House to defend the interest of Nigerians, adding those found wanting on the issue must be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) for immediate prosecution.
Mohammed Sani Abdu (APC: Bauchi), who expressed surprise over the withdrawal of such monies, said there was need to take a second look at the TSA account and address the inherent defects in the implementation of the executive order.
Messers Abdulrazak Namdas (APC : Adamawa) and Daniel Ofongo (PDP: Bayelsa) stressed the need to hear from Adeosun on what must have informed the decision to authorize the withdrawal of such monies meant to ensure that Nigerians have access to good healthcare services.
Also, yesterday, the House of Representatives pardoned the suspended lawmaker, Rep. Abdulmumini Jibrin, after 180 days of his suspension from the House.
The Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, who confirmed the receipt of the letter to the House, said the House has to reconsider its earlier decision based on the fact that the embattled lawmaker duly served his suspension according to the house rules.
He said that Jibrin fulfilled all requirements given by the House after being suspended for 180 days, which had since elapsed.
While making the announcement at plenary, Dogara said, “With this letter of apology, Jibril has met all the requirements and conditions stipulated by the House.
“So, he is free to resume anytime from now, if he so wishes.”
It can be recalled that the House of Representatives suspended the former Chairman of Appropriation Committee, Hon. Abdulmumini Jibrin for a period of 180 legislative sitting days on Wednesday, September 28, 2016.
The House also barred him from holding positions of responsibility till the end of the 8th Assembly.
This was contained in a report submitted by the Committee on Ethics and Privileges through its Chairman, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, which was consequently adopted by the voice votes of the House.
The Committee had been asked to look into the breach of Practices, Precedents and Usage of the House of Representatives and Sundry Acts of Misconduct against the Members and Institution of the House of Representatives and National Assembly.
Jibrin had earlier accused the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara and other principal officers of the Lower Legislative Chamber of padding the 2016 budget to the tune of over N40bn.
The lawmaker from Kano had made the allegation while the House was on recess.
Upon resumption, the House referred the allegation to the Ethics and Privileges committee for further investigation, however, he refused to appear before the committee.
The embattled lawmaker failed to appear before the Ethics and Privileges committee where he had been invited to answer to an allegation that he breached the privileges of members.
The Hon. Ossai-led committee was particularly asked to look into various allegations preferred against the Speaker of the House of Representatives and other principal officers of the House relating to the alleged budget padding.
The committee however said Jibrin refused to appear before it and rather, he elected to granting series of press interviews and making spurious comments against the leadership of the House.
According to the report, Jibrin specifically objected to the Chairmanship of Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai and Membership of Hon. Herme Hembe from Benue State; hence his refusal to show up at the committee.
Following the motion for the consideration of the report moved by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai and seconded by Hon. Orker Jev Orker, the House resolved that the actions of Jibrin contravened Order 6, rules 1-4 of the House Standing Order and Chapter 9, paragraph 3 of the Code of Conduct rules of the House.