By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja- With the discovery of the varying menace of fraudulent practices and financial irregularities at the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), a civil society group,the Citizens Action to Take Back Nigeria (CATBAN) has called on the Federal government to as a matter of immediacy, arrest and prosecute all those involved in the crimes and fraudulent practices against the nation.
The group in specifics called for the arrest and prosecution of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Dr. Femi Thomas for unilaterally making illegal payment of N1.05Billion to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s) and purchase of land at inflated fee, beyond their budgetary allocation and the Acting Executive Secretary, Mr Femi Akingbade for his role in collaborating and conspiring to use the corrupted database to make dubious payment of N1billion and fifty million (N50m) to some HMO’s.
The Coordinator of CATBAN Coalition, Ibrahim Garba Wala who made the disclosure on Friday while addressing News men in Abuja, said its findings unearthed issues ranging from financial irregularities and violation of due processes,health maintenance organization (HMO) fraudulent activities, bank fraud and unaccounted earnings.
Wala while noting that fraud diminishes the objectives of the NHIS and if not checked, could ultimately shut down the program, also called for the identification and prosecution of all those involved in withholding funds belonging to hospitals that render services to enrollees,those involved in fraudulent fix deposit accounts in 11 commercial banks at ridiculous interest rates, contrary to the provisions of the Central Bank of Nigeria and those involved in preventing the transfer of funds in commercial banks to TSA.
According to him,”The erstwhile Executive Secretary of NHIS, Dr. Femi Thomas made illegal payments of N1.05billion to Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO’s) under the guise of arrears without any approval or authorization from the Board of Governing Council or budgetary allocation as stated by the 2015 Auditor General of the Federation’s report”.
Wala however said that these organizations have been corrupted and screwed against the citizens, as the HMO’s often get paid three months in advance, without the hospitals ever getting to receive their money and as a result, many Nigerians are deprived of proper medication thereby leading to health complications or untimely deaths.
He also disclosed that former Senate Presidents, Ayim Pius Ayim and David Mark are some of the owners of some of the HMO’s stealing billions of naira from the scheme.”It may interest everyone here today to know that Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Senator David Mark, a former Senate President are some of the owners of these HMO’s involved in stealing billions under the National Health Insurance Scheme.
“As at 31st March 2015, more than 70% of HMOs had blatantly refused to pay hospitals that render services to enrollees their due sum of N2,442,891,628.95 for capitation and N298,334,233.01 for service fees in 19 northern states; and N318,428,275.75 for capitation and N49,936,529.29 for service fees in 17 Southern states.
“This is in spite of the fact that all the HMO’s had been collecting Billions of Naira, advanced them upfront for every 3-months throughout 2015 and 2016. Thus, the total amount due to hospitals being held illegally by some HMOs from the verification conducted in March 2017 stands at N3,109, 590,667.00” he added.
Speaking further on the inflated price on land purchase, he said that,”The NHIS under the leadership of Dr Thomas purchased a land at inflated price against the Budgetary provision.The budgetary allocation for the purchase of land for NHIS in 2014 was N500million. However, the undeveloped land at Plot no 815 Utako, adjacent NHIS head office in Abuja was purchased under former Executive Secretary of the Scheme, Dr. Femi Thomas at the cost of N990million (N90million as Agency fee) vide voucher with reference No NHIS/ADM/002/2015 dated 12/01/2015. This constitutes a major violation, when the actual amount budgeted for that purpose in the 2014 NHIS budget was N500million.
“Investigation at the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) revealed that contrary to the claim of purchasing the said land at N990million, the FCDA placed a N639 million value on it, leaving a N351 million yawning difference”.
He further disclosed that “On 22nd December 2014 vide memo number NHIS/CMD/12/Vol. Vii, page 985, the sum of N193.3 billion was placed in a fixed deposit on one day with eleven (11) commercial banks at 2% interest rate at a time when CBN prevailing interest rate was 9.2%”.
The group lamented that the NHIS, HMOs, Banks and others are busy enriching themselves at the detriment of dying Nigerians,while members of the civil societies are not doing enough and therefore called on all civil society organizations to join CATBAN under the hashtag #TakeBackNHIS in their quest to sanitize the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to make it better for the citizens.