-The controversial LDEA’s officer is CDC-led Gov’t first prime casualty
President George Weah has dismissed controversial deputy director for Administration at the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), Sebastian Gibson from his post.
Mr. Gibson, who was once dismissed from the same agency by the past Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration for acts of impropriety in 2015, seemingly enjoyed the confidence of President Weah but for a little over forty days only after which President Weah then saw it fit to issue Gibson his marching orders after much public disquiet attending his appointment had simmered down.
With that, Gibson has set an unenviable record of becoming the shortest serving presidential appointee—and the first to be dismissed in the CDC-led government for allegedly repeating acts of impropriety at the LDEA for which he was previously dismissed.
Information about Gibson’s latest dismissal by Weah circulated since Tuesday after the President announced a new batch of nominations to include one Michael Zehyoue who was appointed to the post of Deputy Director of the drug agency, thus effectively replacing Gibson whose dismissal was not publicly announced.
It can be recalled that on May 7, 2018, Sebastian A. Gibson took office at the LDEA after being nominated by the President in early April, but was not confirmed until he was dismissed on Tuesday, May 19 2018. His relatively short stint at that agency, according to sources, came as a result of some “unwholesome acts” committed at the LDEA in which he is said to have been involved while his confirmation was yet pending at the Senate.
According to sources, Gibson, following his assumption of office on May 7, 2018 is said to have plunged the entire entity in disarray by removing competent employees from their positions and replacing them with individuals that are reportedly connected to the sale of harmful drugs in the country.
“On that very day, May 7, Gibson suspended and subsequently replaced the entire finance section of the LDEA with new employees, who sources said, have no knowledge or expertise in financial matters.
Gibson is also reported to have demoted and transferred all senior staffers from the administrative department, a decision which his then deputy for operations and now director-general designate, Marcus Soko and the Minister of Justice, Musa F. Dean, did not support, but Gibson stoutly refused budge, sources told the Daily Observer
Gibson’s earlier dismissal in the Ellen Sirleaf regime was in line with prescribed penalties for violations of the LDEA’s duty manual category D, count/Dot-17 and page 45 of the agency’s code of conduct.
He was among five officers of the LDEA dismissed in 2015 on allegations of constant bribe taking, which violates part-1, count 20.0 of its code of conduct of the act that created the LDEA. The affected officers were also charged with extortion from drug suspects, which is also in contravention of chapter 15 of section 15.51 of the penal law of Liberia, the agency said at the time.
Gibson was the deputy chief of training until his dismissal on September 1, 2015, by authorities of the agency following investigation which found him guilty.
Other officers that were dismissed along with Gibson were Prince Harris, chief of intelligence; Darius Davies, secretary to the Board of Internal Investigations and Professional Standards; Albert Hare, deputy chief investigator and Eugene Quiah, chief of operations then assigned in Bong County.
Gibson’s latest dismissal, according to sources, seemed to have been influenced by a powerful diplomatic mission that informed President Weah that they could not work with individuals with tainted characters. The diplomatic mission (name withheld) according to sources is said to have informed President Weah that Gibson, having been previously dismissed for acts of impropriety, was a stumbling block to the granting of further donor assistance by that powerful nation.
President Weah, according to sources, reacted by swiftly ordering Justice Minister Musa Dean to launch an investigation including a review of Gibson’s personnel file. The review showed that on Gibson’s personnel file was a letter of reinstatement, signed by then outgoing Justice Minister Frederick Cherue dated January 10, 2018, just five days shy of President Weah’s inauguration on January 22, 2018.
Daily Observer reporter, Hannah Geterminah, who first broke the story in the April 6, 2018 edition of this newspaper reported that Minister Cherue confirmed that he had ordered Gibson’s reinstatement based on findings from a Justice Ministry special investigative committee, which recommended that Gibson and four others be reinstated, with their full salaries and benefits as they were wrongfully dismissed.
Former Justice Minister Frederick Cherue’s confirmation to the Daily Observer on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 that he ordered the reinstatement of dismissed Liberian Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) official Sebastian Gibson had, at the time, raised eyebrows and questions in the public, bordering on ethical indiscretion, given the rather eleventh hour unprecedented action as an official in transition.
Mr. Gibson and four others were dismissed by the Drug Enforcement Agency on September 1, 2015. According to the agency, Gibson and the four others had violated Part-1 Count 20.0 of its code of conduct. The affected officers were also charged with extortion from drug suspects, which is also in contravention of Chapter 15 of Section 15.51 of the penal law of Liberia, the agency said at the time.
Until his dismissal on September 1, 2015, by authorities of the agency, Gibson was the deputy chief of training, the Daily Observer learnt. Other officers who were dismissed along with Gibson included Prince Harris, chief of intelligence; Darius Davies, secretary to the Board of Internal Investigations and Professional Standards; Albert Hare, deputy chief investigator; and Eugene Quiah, chief of operations assigned in Bong County.
According to the drug agency, Gibson’s dismissal was in keeping with prescribed penalties for violations of the agency’s Duty Manual Category D, count/Dot-17 and page 45 of the agency’s code of conduct. In its letter of dismissal, the drug agency charged him with extortion and bribery.
“You intruded into the home of Madam Amelia Gaye of Johnson Street where you intimidated, harassed and took bribe in the amount of L$6,000 and extorted US$1,000 respectively under the pretense of protecting her from the LDEA’s arrest and prosecution for her alleged involvement in the sale of illegal drugs,” Gibson’s dismissal letter said at the time.
He and other affected officers were ordered to turn over all properties in their possessions to the head of the human resource department, and to act accordingly by reporting in three days to the authorities after they were disrobed.
But in further reaction to concerns raised then by Daily Observer reporter, Hannah Geterminah, the then joint security coordinator at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on April 5, 2018 confirmed that Sebastian A. Gibson, Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency’s (LDEA’s) then newly-appointed Deputy Director for Administration, was reinstated on January 10, 2018, by then Justice Minister Frederick D. Cherue.
Farini B. Kamara said as head of the Justice Ministry’s investigative committee, he and his team conducted a comprehensive investigation and concluded that the former administration reinstate Gibson and other affected agents with their salaries and other benefits because they did not see any evidence that warranted their dismissal.
However, until the April 5,2018 confirmation by former Justice Minister Cherue, the authenticity of his eleventh hour January 10, 2018 letter reinstating Gibson was considered suspect because, according to legal experts and insider DEA sources, Gibson’s dismissal some three years ago provided more than ample time to Minister Cherue to have corrected whatever missteps the drug agency may have committed in the handling of the case and not on the eve of his departure from office.
More recently, according to sources, further investigations into the matter conducted under the auspices of the current Justice Minister Musa Dean revealed that there was no proof of any investigation conducted as alleged by Farfini Kamara, joint security coordinator at the Ministry of Justice on which basis former Justice Minister Cherue said he ordered the reinstatement of Gibson and others previously dismissed from the LDEA.
“It was based on these facts that Minister Dean recommended to the President that Gibson be dismissed along with eight other employees that were reinstated along with him,” the source noted. Other DEA officers affected by President Weah’s latest dismissal action include Prince Harris, Darius David, Prince Bestman, Albert Hare, Sylvester William, Sampson Borfuah and Kpaye Lomax.
Meanwhile, a Justice Ministry official speaking under condition of anonymity, said Cherue’s eleventh hour letter of reinstatement was analogous to and indistinguishable from an ethical breach since Cherue’s authority as Justice Minister had ended with the election of a new president whose victory was announced on December 29, 2018, and who had subsequently clothed human resource officers with the authority to run the affairs of the various ministries and agencies of government pending the appointment of new heads.
In a related development, Marcus Soko has been appointed Director General, Michael Zehyou, Who replaces Gibson as deputy director-general for Administration and Melvin Sarko as deputy Director-General for operations.