The Daily Observer has learned that at least 11 employees of the National Drugs Service (NDS), including its head, Beyan Johnson, have been suspended from office for a month pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation into disappearances of drugs and other alleged improprieties at the NDS.
The Health Ministry, in a memorandum to at least 12 employees of NDS, signed by Acting Health Minister Edward B. Tolbert, said “the MOH has over the past weeks received several complaints from institutions including partners alleging disappearances of essential drugs donated or procured and placed under your care at the NDS.” The memo is dated October 7, while Mr. Johnson’s suspension letter was dated October 2.
Mr. Tolbert told the suspended NDS employees that the Ministry is exerting every effort to establish responsibility for the aforesaid loss of government properties under the watchful eye of the NDS’ management team.
It may be recalled that on September 1, 2015, the Director of the Liberia Medical and Health Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) received reports of a truck arrested while allegedly carrying a consignment of “essential drugs and supplies.”
Among the 146 cartons confiscated that September 1st day from the Guinea-bound truck, were 10 essential drugs and medical supplies. The estimated value of the stock is US$50,000, the MOH said.
According to the MOH, Beyan Johnson, managing director of NDS, informed the LMHRA when he was contacted by the Regulatory Authority, that he had no knowledge of any drugs and supplies missing from the NDS warehouse,.
However, at a press conference on September 4, Tom Nyanwatolu, NDS’ Logistics Coordinator, who represented Mr. Johnson, agreed that the drugs were from their warehouse, adding: “We don’t know how they got out. We promise to investigate in collaboration with the Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).”
Mr. Johnson could not be reached for comments. His phone rang endlessly. However, one of the affected persons (asked not to be named) said while they are on suspension, their positions have been filled. “They have even planted people in other positions of people, who have not been suspended,” the affected man said.