Liberia: Power Struggle at LMHRA; Managing Director Risks Being Removed


Monrovia – Investigation conducted by this newspaper has revealed that the Managing Director of the Liberia Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), David Sumo, risks being removed from his post by President George Weah with recommendations from some CDC lawmakers.

Sumo, who was trained by the Liberian Government, was recalled by Pres, Weah’s government to serve as Managing Director at the LMHRA because of his experience and knowledge in medicines.

At the very early stages of the present regime, he was earlier replaced by the Human Resource (HR) of the entity on the instruction of the President in 2018. 

However, after few months, Mr. Sumo was asked by the President and a vetting Committee to return to the LMHRA as Managing Director until otherwise.

According to our investigation, Sumo is now under tension and risks being removed on alleged recommendations from some CDC lawmakers and their cohorts who feel that their interests or friends operating pharmacies are being tempered with by the LMHRA under the watch of David Sumo.

Sources at the LMHRA have told this newspaper that some Lebanese dealing in pharmaceutical products in Liberia have been accused of having their hands in alleged ploy to get Pharmacist Sumo removed from his post. 

Sumo’s leadership continuously arrests fake drugs and other medical items from most of these places without compromise. 

Our sources further narrated that those Lebanese have openly threatened that they are going to use their contacts in the Liberian Government to get Mr. Sumo dismissed or removed from his post.

One of the LMHRA’s inspectors, who spoke on anonymity, told FrontPageAfrica stated: “Since we started collecting fake drugs on the field especially from the Lebanese and Indian-run pharmacies, which normally supply or donate private clinics or health centers of some lawmakers with drugs, the tension has intensified on us. Big hands, including some lawmakers, are telling us to stop and return the people’s drugs so they can sell them to the people of Liberia.”

Our source accused Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph and House Speaker Bhofal Chambers of siding with some of these Lebanese pharmacies’ operators, who he alleged are selling fake drugs on the Liberian market.

According to this inspector, ITTER Pharmacy owner Nabil El Itter and other Lebanese friends, are allegedly fighting back to “soften the ground” at LMHRA through Senator Joseph and Speaker Chambers to prevail on President Weah to remove the current Managing Director, whom they see as being very rigid in implementing the regulations.

In March 2017 and January 2019, Itter called on the Liberian government to settle his claims of US$100,000, which according to him, accumulated over the period of 20 years.

According to our source, the Lebanese businessmen together with some Liberians pharmacy operators, has allegedly submitted the name of one Hasipha C. Tarpeh as their choice for Mr. Sumo’s post to the CDC lawmakers, who can allegedly influence President Weah’s choice of appointment.

The Itter Pharmacy proprietor is said to be at the front of all the negotiations leading for the alleged removal of Sumo. 

When contacted, Nabil told FrontPageAfrica that he was not interested in anything of such.

He furthered stated via mobile that anyone who has anything against him should go to court. He warned that no one should call again on such “nonsense.”

Recently, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Health headed by the Nimba County District #3 Representative Joseph Somwarbi invited the LMHRA Managing Director, David Sumo, along with six of his staff to appear with documentations to address allegations of massive corruption at the entity.

The LHMRA head and six others, including Antoinette N. Mulbah, Hugh Bladee, Nicklaus Q. Nimely, Patricia Quaye-Freeman, Arthur Gbotoe and Rev. Joseph Redd met with the lawmakers.

FrontPageAfrica was told that during the hearings the allegations against Sumo’s leadership couldn’t be proven by his accusers, who are said to be backed by those huge pharmacies’ owners.

Our sources closed to some higher-ups plotting the alleged removal of the LMHRA MD said recently, some of these pharmacies’ owners allegedly gave money to some civil society organizations to stage a protest at the LMHRA offices on the Old Road.

The intent of the protest, this newspaper was told, was to draw the attention of the relevant authorities and the President to swiftly appoint the individual that was allegedly recommended by Sen. Saah Joseph and Speaker Bhofal Chambers.   

When contacted via mobile phone, the Montserrado County Senator denied the allegations of being behind the alleged plot to remove David Sumo from the LMHRA. Rather, he disclosed that it was he who had recommended to the President that Sumo should stay in the post as Acting MD at the LMHRA. This information could not be verified by this newspaper. 

Sen. Joseph is also of the conviction that the Speaker does not have a hand in what is being reported.

“The Speaker will not do that. In fact, why will I be planning to remove a man that I recommended to serve in that position? I even have the copy of the letter here and I can give it to you,” Senator Joseph said.

However, the Montserrado County Senator declined speaking about his link with Itter Pharmacy management. 

The Office of Speaker Chambers could not respond because they said he is out of the country.