Charles Gibson Takes Over from Verdier at LACC

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Outgoing LACC chair, Cllr. James N. Verdier, Jr.

The days of Cllr. James Verdier at the Liberia Anti-Commission LACC have finally come to an end, as the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 announced with immediate effect, the appointment of controversial Cllr. Charles Gibson as officer-in-charge of the anti-corruption body.

According to a letter in the possession of the Daily Observer, Minister McGill said with a mandate from President George Weah, Gibson is to serve as the Officer-in-Charge of the LACC until further notice.

This is not the same Cllr. Charles Gibson who was nominated to the Justice Minister post in 2018 but later rejected by the Senate, having previously been suspended from practice by the Supreme Court for duping his client. That Gibson was appoint by the President as chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).

“The President has instructed that you serve as the Officer-in-Charge of the LACC, and mandates you to take charge of the tasks and functional responsibilities of the office thereof until further notice,” a portion of the letter signed by McGill said to LACC’s Charles Gibson.

The former Chairman of the LACC, Cllr. James Verdier has over the months, been on a slippery ground with the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government on a number of issues, including policy differences.

Recently, Verdier had an interview with Darlington Tokpa, Radio France International (RFI) correspondent in Liberia, in which he said that President Weah’s administration is seriously undermining the fight against corruption in the country, His comments did not go well with McGill and others that are so close to President Weah.

He said funds intended for the Commission and a host of anti-graft institutions have not been disbursed to them as should be by the CDC government.

Verdier further pointed out that majority of government officials, mainly those working at the will and pleasure of President Weah are yet to declare their assets since they came into their respective offices.

He said Weah is in support of the alleged deliberate failure on the part of the government officials each to declare their assets and adhere to the tenets of democracy in the governance system simply because he has failed to mount pressure on them neither has he set a good example, himself.

With Verdier not being in very good graces the administration, because of what he realized was its deliberate attempt to strangulate the LACC by denying it funds to operate, made him more bolder to state the facts and be damned regardless, political observers told this newspaper.

With Gibson’s knowledge of the challenges, he would be starting with the assurance in McGill’s letter that informed him of “His Excellency (President Weah) expression of trust in Gibson’s ability to make a meaningful contribution in his area of responsibility.”

Cllr. Verdier, who was appointed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, served his tenure which began on February 24, 2014. He replaced Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison, but his being outspoken about corruption in government has drawn much attention, according to those who are familiar with his temperament.

Perhaps the government does not have trust in the titles of a managing director or executive director, because since Weah’s government took over, at least three of his managing directors, deputy managing directors for Administration, and now executive director have now replaced MD at the National Housing Authority and his deputy, now Officer-in-Charge (OIC), and LACC’s Gibson assuming the leadership there under the same OIC title.

It is the consensus of many Liberians that unless the government supports the LACC with its required funding and political will, the new administration would be frustrated in the discharge of its duties.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Does LACC have offices in the 15 counties of Liberia? If not, why not? Are Superintendents barred by law from declaring their assets? Is Monrovia the only city in Liberia that is infested with corrupt individuals?

    Has a crime been committed or does it amount to corruption if a lawmaker or government official fails to declare his or her assets?

    Before he assumed the leadership of LACC, did Verdier declare his assets? If not why not?

  2. Why is that this government is appointing Counselor to LACC? He was once involved in corrupt act which prevented him from being confirmed by the Honorable Liberian Senate. Which way is this government going with fighting corruption?

  3. Mr. Hney, why not find out for yourself instead of asking? As Liberians we refused to change our mentality on sensitive issues such as corruption. It is like a taboo for anyone to talk about corruption under this CDC led government. Where is the transparency that President Weah promised? Journalists are now running into exile for their lives simply because they wrote about corruption in this government. These same members of CDC openly criticized Unity Party for condoning corruption . The late Reggie King Peter Tosh once said that “do not be in the glass house and throw stones.” What all that they criticized UP about is exactly what they are doing now. If you know that you are not perfect, do not accuse others.

  4. There is another Charles Gibson who is a commissioner at the LACC that I hope is not being confused with the controversial Charles Gibson.

  5. Dear readers, this is indeed a different Cllr. Charles Gibson. The controversial Gibson is now chairman of NOCAL. We sincerely apologize to LACC’s Cllr. Charles Gibson and to our readers for the mistake, which we have corrected in the above post.

  6. General Tamba Borbor,
    In all sincerity, it’s a pleasure to meet you for the very first time on this blog.

    Corruption has to go. However, it seems that those who are charged with the responsibility to fight corruption are not serious. That’s why I asked the questions above.

    I strongly believe that corruption runs deep all over Liberia. But at the same time unemployment is a major problem in Liberia. The issue is when the educated people are given a position of authority, that’s it. Some of them have no experience neither do they care to perform their assigned duties creatively. Being a corruption fighter does not mean asking people to declare assets. Of course, its okay to demand that assets be declared. That’s legal. But, its more than than that.

    If I were LACC’s director, this is what I would do. Knowing that unemployment is a major issue in Liberia, I would create 15 satellite offices nationwide. Why? Because corruption exists in all the counties of Liberia. I would have hired a cadre of young men and women to report to me about corrupt practices in counties in which they reside. So, not only would I be successful in fighting corruption, but I have caused a dent in the area of unemployment.

    • And where would you get the budget to open 15 LACC offices in the counties? Paddling the government with more people would not reduce unemployment my brother. The job of a government is not to create jobs in the government but to encourage the private sector to create jobs by reducing corporate taxes, providing incentives and creating a law/legal abiding atmosphere that protects corporate investments.

      When the CDC first came to power, they tried creating jobs for their partisans by paddling government with more people without proper budgetary allocations. Look at what’s happening now. There are people employed in government who have not been paid. Secondly, 95% of those given government jobs in the CDC government have no experience or qualification to the positions being occupied. You do not create jobs that way, you need people in government who are productive and hired on merit.

  7. Mr. Best,
    Thanks very much for your clarification!

    I have an urgent request. There are some commenters who have the tendency of insulting one another. Sometimes, I am insulted when I have a difference of opinion with a fellow Liberian. I have been called ugly names that were not given to me upon birth. I think we all need to be civilized and respectful of others’ views even if we disagree with them.

    Will it be possible for you to clamp down on the use of invectives?

    Mr. Best, I have lived in the US for a very long time. I know a thing or two about free expression in a democratic society. I am not asking you to quash free expression. Of course not. All I am asking is whether it will be possible for you to inform all commenters to discuss the issues.

    Kind regards.

  8. Dear Counselor and Publisher Kai Best, in Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”, the star-crossed young Juliet asks, “What’s in a name?” Well, your timely action has shown that at times it can be critical, if not crucial, to reputation.

    I’m therefore joining Mr. F.S Hney in congratulating you, because rarely do our media outlets feel responsible for clarifying or retracting even the most egregious inaccuracies. The tendency conveys an impression some care less that “accountability” to readers or listeners (correcting mistakes) is among the five core principles of journalism. Or hate speech which has become a staple falls under another: “Humanity”.

    Regarding his appeal, though the phrase “clamp down” might seem a tad jarring in the ears of some, the rationale has nothing to do with censoring or policing free speech. And, undeniably, it resonates and is relevant considering ruckus in our media space the UN, AU, and ECOWAS last week unequivocally warned about. Knowing our for nothing loudmouth, many of us have no regard for the International Community until all hell breaks loose, then passports fly out of hiding places.

    Perhaps, Daily Observer should think of erecting deterrent measures of news platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Frontpageafrica, and Perspective Journal whereby pictures of commenters are attached. A form of instant identification will not only make comments more credible as commenter’s believability on the line, but also help to minimize vulgarity, threats, and incitements often mistaken for machismo or toughness. Thank you.

  9. Thanks brother G. F. Moses,
    Very proud of you. You have a right to support anyone you wish. You have a right to disagree with anyone you wish. You cannot allow yourself to be monopolized by anyone. No one has control over your thoughts. More importantly, no one has the right to insult you just because there’s a difference of opinion.
    I sometimes wonder whether people who engage in swearing have an iota of self-esteem. I am darn certain that Mr. Best will look into this issue.

    We debate the issues. Not the personality traits of people or their past activities.

  10. Of course you are calling for censorship…why not tell Daily Observer to send all so-called photos and information of commenters to Weah and his goons so they can go looking for them for criticizing the GOD (Weah)…I did not hear you making this silly suggestion during the Ellen Sirleaf government when the vitriolic was even harsher…

  11. Any journalist or commenter who directly or indirectly creates multiple personas on social media platforms in order to sway readers is out of his or her league and a fake. Transparency falls under the journalistic principle of accountability, and we will continue reminding hotheaded triple agent provocateurs: Go threaten amateurs.

    • How about the real transparency and accountability in government like making asset declaration public after building mansions and apartment complexes in just one year in power….

  12. Chris,
    Your lecture has been understood. I agree with some parts of it. I probably wasn’t too explicit in terms of explaining what I said.

    LACC and other so called “tenured institutions” did not focus on reporting on corrupt practices throughout Liberia, but rather focused on one hot spot in Liberia, namely, Monrovia. On one hand, it made sense to inform the public about corrupt officials in Monrovia and its greater areas. But on the other hand, no report of corruption was diclosed to the public from the counties. If any report of corruption came from the counties, LACC did not have any authority to prosecute a corrupt individual.

    Money:
    In democratic societies such as the US, job creatiin is not the government’s main function. But, governments in such societies create the mechanism for jobs to be created by business individuals. LACC could have become effective if it had offices nationwide with their meager resources.
    More to be said. I have quit for now because of a prior appointment.

  13. Mr. Flomo Smith,
    Grertings.
    Can you authenticate with a degree of certainty whether Mr. Weah is using the country’s meager resources to build mansions?

    Sometimes what “they say” could be pure speculation or something that’s called fake news. So let me give you a few examples of what “people have said” that turned out to be fake news.

    1. In the early 1980s, “they said” that the late senator Ted Kennedy had a net worth of a billion dollars. What “they said” was dead wrong. Before his demise, Senator Kennedy’s net worth was estimated to be in the neighborhood of 300-400 million dollars.

    2. During the regime of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, “they said” EJS had built a hospital in South Africa. It was denied. No Liberian had come out of the woods to dispute her claim.

    Flomo, I can go on and on with what “they say”. But, nine times out of ten, what “they say” is pure speculation or a negative spin of hateful news or fake news.

    Let us be careful about what they say! Unless there’s substantial proof to validate a claim, it is wrong to make accusations on the basis of assumption.

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