The decision by President George Weah to appoint Commissioner Charles J.L. Gibson, who in 2015 was in a leaked audio recording soliciting bribes from Montserrado County District #15 Representative Adolph A. Lawrence, to dismiss an investigation involving him and then House Speaker Alex Tyler, as Officer-in-Charge of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has raised eyebrows both within the public and among Gibson’s colleagues, who are now questioning the President’s judgment.
In a leaked audio recording, Commissioner Gibson was heard soliciting a bribe from Rep. Lawrence and, in reaction to the audio, the LACC issued a release, terming it as a “calculated audio recording and an attempt to twist its attention from the investigation involving Rep. Lawrence and then Speaker Alex Tyler.”
“The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is aware and takes note of a calculated audio recording attributed to one of its commissioners, Hon. Charles J.L. Gibson, who is alleged to have had a conversation with Representative Adolph Lawrence, to compromise LACC’s investigation of then Speaker Alex Tyler and Rep. Lawrence,” the LACC release said.
It added: “LACC sees this as an attempt to twist its attention from the ongoing investigation involving Rep. Adolph Lawrence and the Speaker of the House. Some accused persons are doing all to redeem their reputation, and have resorted to the normal political tactics of finding similar voices to play and attribute them to Commissioner Charles J.L Gibson.”
The House of Representatives failed to remove Speaker Tyler over the US$25, 000 allegation from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
The LACC commenced an investigation into the US$25,000 payment from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) for legal services provided to the Legislature for a nationwide oil consultation. The payment became questionable when the amount paid by the oil company turned out to be much higher than what was actually received by the lawyer who provided the legal service.
The LACC subsequently made arrests of Representative Adolph Lawrence, along with Cllr. Michael N. Allison and others.
The arrests of Speaker Alex Tyler and the Chairman of the Nationwide Oil Consultation Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchue were impossible because of House’s Plenary decision, reminding the LACC — an agency of the Executive branch of their Legislative Power — about Article 42 of the Liberian Constitution, which states: “Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be privileged from arrest while attending, going to or returning from sessions of the Legislature, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace….”
Meanwhile, the appointment of Mr. Gibson has left opposition and civic organizations anxious, because they fear that appointing him to such a sensitive role will have serious implications in the democratic process as he (Gibson) is a corrupt official who has been accused of soliciting bribes.
Commissioner Gibson brings to the LACC a rich experience in accounting, auditing, management, and finance. He has been in the private sector, both in the United States and Liberia, for more than twenty (20) years. Prior to his incumbency at the LACC, he worked in the public sector as a senior auditor at the General Auditing Office, now the General Auditing Commission.
He considers himself a prudent manager and a team player. At the LACC, he had oversight responsibility for administration from 2014 – 2017. Mr. Gibson holds an AA degree from the Erstwhile Ricks Institute Junior College, a BBA degree from the University of Liberia, with an emphasis in accounting and management. He earned an MBA degree from St. Mary’s University in the USA, with an emphasis on finance. He is a certified financial planner with oversight responsibility for enforcement.