Weah’s ‘Justice Minister’ Under Suspension by Supreme Court

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“Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people, the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” President Weah said in his inaugural address. (Photo credit: Nick N. Seebeh.)

President yet to respond 

Cllr. Charles Gibson, the man announced by President George Weah to serve as the next Justice Minister and Attorney General is, according to court records, currently suspended from practicing law in Liberia by the Supreme Court for duping one of his clients, Anwar A. Saoud, of US$25,400.

According to reports, Gibson was successful in collecting thousands of United States dollars from Saoud’s delinquent customers, from which he was allowed to take 20 percent as part of his legal fees.

Cllr. Gibson was, however, suspended by the Supreme Court on February 24, 2017 following an investigation conducted by the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the National Bar Association into allegations of improper conduct levied against him by Anwar A. Saoud, President of the GEECO Corporation.

The Bar’s Grievance and Ethics Committee had charged Gibson for misleading his client on whose behalf he had instituted a series of lawsuits to recover loans and other obligations  from his customers, from which Gibson was unable to account for the US$25,400 he had earlier collected.

At the time, Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, who delivered the judgment on behalf of  the Supreme Court, suspended Gibson’s license for two months and mandated him to refund Saoud the sum of US$25,400.

Additionally, the court imposed a ban on him from practicing law in Liberia until the money was restituted. But it would take nearly a year — plus a lofty presidential nomination — for Cllr. Gibson to pay back his client and begin to clear his name.

In her judgment, Justice Yuoh maintained that Gibson’s action as a lawyer breached Rule 15 of the client–lawyer relationship, which states that “A lawyer should refrain from any act whereby for his personal benefit or gain he abuses or takes advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client. Money collected for his client, or other money or property of his said client coming into his possession as a result of his professional duty to his client should be reported and accounted for promptly, and should not under any circumstances be commingled with his own or be used by him.”

News of Gibson’s suspension surfaced almost immediately after his name was announced as the new Minister of Justice awaiting confirmation by the Senate.

Cllr. Gibson’s appointment forms part of the first batch of President Weah’s cabinet ministers announced on Monday, just hours after his inauguration speech, where he assured Liberians about his willingness to fight corruption in public service.

However, it is not clear whether President Weah was aware of Gibson’s suspension before his appointment. It is also not clear at this point how President Weah is going to react to this development, but sources suggest that given the long standing but very close ties between the President and Gibson, it appears unlikely, at least for now, that President Weah is going to withdraw his support for his long time friend.

In his inaugural address, President Weah made few promises. Key among them was to ensure that corruption is rooted out from public service.

“Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people, the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” President Weah declared.

The Suprme Court’s decision against Cllr. Gibson was based on findings of both the Grievance and Ethics Committee and the Amicus Curiae (friend of the Supreme Court).

An Amicus Curiae (literally, “friend of the court”) is someone who is not a party to a case and is not solicited by a party, but who assists a court by offering information that bears on the case.

Meanwhile, according to sources, Cllr. Gibson had been obedient to the court’s mandate banning him from the practice of law.

The Daily Observer has reliably gathered that on January 17, 2018, Cllr. Gibson issued a manager’s check (number 00021621) in the equivalent amount of the US$25,400 in Liberian dollars equivalent, which suggests that the Weah team knew about Gibson’s suspension and made sure the amount was paid before his appointment. Yet, up to the publication of this story, the ban on Gibson’s law practice had not been lifted.

The nomination of Gibson by President Weah resembles an identical move by Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who nominated Cllr. Fonati Koffa, a lawyer who was criminally prosecuted, sentenced and served jail time, as well as disbarment from law practice in the United States of America, for embezzlement of client funds, among other charges. Koffa recently won the Representative seat for Grand Kru County Electorial District #2.

When Koffa’s nomination could not materialize, the former President hired him as Minister of State Without Portfolio, to lead the Special Presidential Task Force, with the sole mandate of prosecuting Cllr. Varney Sherman, former Speaker J. Alex Tyler and others named in the Global Witness allegations of bribery of Liberian government officials to change the Procurement law in favor of British investor, Sable Mining.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I just hope weah won’t run this country on friendship and spoil his good relationship with the masses. Those same people you saw yelling in the stadium can give u the back door soon morning president Weah. If people are carrying stains on them forget them and have good people on board. You know what happen when you make mistake with an area like justice minister position.

  2. The difference between President George Weah and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, if
    at all there is a difference, is President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dwelt and rule was a
    corrupt regime; whereas, President Weah just came to office and should be bound by
    what happened in Ellen Johnsopn-Sirleaf’s corrupt systems of governing.

    Another case in point is that, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Minister of Justice Christina Tah
    was also suspended by the Supreme Court and she remained Minister of Justice while
    waiting for her suspension to be lifted. Therefore, Counsellor Charles Gibson’s appointment
    must and should remain and not cancel for him to serve as soon as he paid the $25,400.00
    to his client.

    • Mr. Tarlue – I think is it high time we all put an end to this politic of “expediency.” It is up to all of us to help make this young man to be a “good” leader by the level of advice we suggest. Are you suggesting here that what happened in the Sirleaf’s administration with regards to former Minister Tah was right therefore it is ok to do the same with Cllr. Gibson?

      The fact that Cllr. Gibson ignored the Supreme Court’s Mandate to refund the amount in question until now he realizes he’s about to be the next Chief Justice is troubling. In other words Cllr. Gibson would not have paid this amount had he not known that he was up for the nomination.

      We all say we want for President Weah to be successful in his presidency, but the least we can do is to suggest a sound and better advice so he can make a sound decision. Go back to his inaugural address, which is eloquent by the way, he’s promised to lead this nation to our expectations, but he also challenged Liberians to meet him halfway, as I paraphrased. We must help this young man and call a spade what it is…..

  3. The difference between President George Weah and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, if
    at all there is a difference, is President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dwelt and rule was a
    corrupt regime; whereas, President Weah just came to office and should be bound by
    what happened in Ellen Johnsopn-Sirleaf’s corrupt systems of governing.

    Another case in point is that, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Minister of Justice Christina Tah
    was also suspended by the Supreme Court and she remained Minister of Justice while
    waiting for her suspension to be lifted. Therefore, Counsellor Charles Gibson’s appointment
    must and should remain and not cancel for him to serve as soon as he paid the $25,400.00
    to his client.

    THE ONLY THING I SEE AND HOPE FOR IS THAT PRESIDENT GEORGE WEAH MUST DO
    EVERY THING POSSIBLE, WHETHER IN HELL OR ON EARTH, TO BE DIFFERENT FROM
    PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF. IF HE DOESN’T KEEP HIS ADMINISTRATION FAR
    DISTANCE FROM ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, HE WILL SOON BE COUNTED OTHERWISE

    !

  4. If Mr. Weah is not careful and distance himself from the policy of the previous regime, his regime will be seen as the continuation of Mrs. Sirleaf THIRD TERM. Something he may not want, given the level of mistrust between that regime (Mrs. Sirleaf’s), and the Liberian people.

  5. The nomination or appointments made by the President of Liberia to help the performance of his administration is based on the capability and trustworthiness to the nation’s Executive. Such appointments as cabinet Ministers not withstanding to be confirmed by the Senate is the pillar of the Chief Executive ‘s discretionary decision and should not be politicized. In other words, the President and Senate could take a choice regardless how the opposed feel as regards qualification or backlogs. The entire population or any Liberian has to meet interpreted cases by to the Supreme Court as part of Liberian jurisprudence but does not interact with gimmicks or the politics of lies. The transition process will be completed January 31, 2018. After this date, there will be no connections to incumbent help, will be over. Give the President his right to make his appointment choices just as Liberians in Run-off appearance votes place him in the majority with the Silent majority in control. Wait for the peaceful moment of transition end. God’s time.
    Do not reply my box. Gone to silent 57%.

    • Mr. TD – I am not sure if Cllr. Gibson’s qualification is what under question here. If this article is accurate as written, then his integrity is what is being questioned.

      That being the case, the president deserves better and so do the Liberian people. Remember, these names that will be coming up for nomination are all being vetted by a committee and the president may not be aware of their qualifications and integrity, but relies upon this committee. In helping the president it is incumbent upon the investigative media reporters to impartially uncover and reveal the truths about these nominees.

      You are correct that the executive and the legislature could make a decision as to who to nominate and confirm, regardless of how the “opposed” feels. But what if the “opposed” is the masses? Does the president ignore their cry without any convincing explanation as to the rationale? This would be a miscalculation in my opinion. Isn’t this was the same thing we accuse the past administration?

  6. If you are qualified or profess to be educated, tell the Liberian people. Not this box. This is not a chat room. Do not reply this box.
    Gone to my corn bread in silence. Not invited.

  7. It is the people of Liberia through various counties, by majority votes that put Senators in the house for such confirmations. The “masses” have already given the responsibility to the Executive as well. Unless, or if a Liberian or anyone has election doubts, tell the people in a referendum or go to court. Again let the nation know. Not my father’s box.
    Gone to silence too.

  8. Mr. Gibson’s appointment must be withdrawn by President Weah. He has a tarnished reputation and should not be the face of our justice system. A man who pledged to uproot corruption cannot depend on a tainted individual such as Mr. Gibson to lead that fight. Would it make sense to go into combat with a wounded commander leading the charge? Mr. Gibson has been compromised. He cannot be an effective voice in the effort to stamp out malpractices in public service.

  9. In another development, what if some suggest that the reduction in the then President elect prediction overshadowed expectations of overwhelming majority of registered voters was only 34% because of the running mate he picked? Still not enough to present to the intend. To them this mate is a divorced ex-wife of a prisoner held outside the boundaries of this Republic, and may have had an impact on the full majority visioned even if he was in detention within. Some might have withheld votes or abstained because they did not need no longer a mate or president outside the bonds of active matrimony. Some also did not because they did not need a prisoner’s name associated with the First lady’s Executive Office. Yet the votes with silent majority consent put the President of Liberian in. Let us stay peaceful and feel the out come of self governance given by our forefathers and founders as we adjust replace and produce our own resources to avoid or curb corruption. May the Liberian people know. Do Not Reply.

  10. Gentlemen, lets be realistic here. This current government is indeed the third term regime of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, given that the nominated Foreign Minister Finley is a very, very close associate, if not the boyfriend of the Madam Sirleaf. This is what we have been saying all along. Trust me after 100 days, all our prophecy will become a reality……

  11. P. Allison Tarlue, Sr. January 24, 2018 at 4:20 am

    The difference between President George Weah and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, if
    at all there is a difference, is President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dwelt and rule was a
    corrupt regime; whereas, President Weah just came to office and should NOT be bound by
    what happened in Ellen Johnsopn-Sirleaf’s corrupt systems of governing.

    Another case in point is that, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Minister of Justice Christina Tah
    was also suspended by the Supreme Court and she remained Minister of Justice while
    waiting for her suspension to be lifted. Therefore, Counsellor Charles Gibson’s appointment
    must and should remain and not cancel for him to serve as soon as he paid the $25,400.00
    to his client.

    THE ONLY THING I SEE AND HOPE FOR IS THAT PRESIDENT GEORGE WEAH MUST DO
    EVERY THING POSSIBLE, WHETHER IN HELL OR ON EARTH, TO BE DIFFERENT FROM
    PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF. IF HE DOESN’T KEEP HIS ADMINISTRATION FAR
    DISTANCE FROM ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, HE WILL SOON BE COUNTED OTHERWISE

  12. Mr. John, thanks for your opinion about making President George Weah a good
    leader. I hope he is listening to you and others. Although what happened in
    Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was not, I do agreed. But, Mr. John, can you tell any
    difference, if at all there is a difference, between Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s manner
    of governing and that of Weah? I hope that we will be able to see it. For example,
    who recommended Mr. Gbezohngar Findley for Minister of Foreign Affairs? I believe
    it was Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Yet Mr. Findley said that he knows nothing about
    running the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the international diplomatic interaction.
    If indeed as it does appear that there will be no difference between Ellen Johnson-
    Sirleaf’s way of running a country and that of George Weah, then why should Cllr.
    Charles Gibson suffer any consequences? That is why I cited the Christina Tah’s
    as case in point.

    Secondly, to be a friend of a man before becoming President, entails a lot of interaction
    and let us move together. In other word, perhaps Charles Gibson must had contributed
    to the needs of money for CDC to bring it to the Executive Mansion today. You remember
    when George Weah and CDC were selling a vacant space to the National Legislature;
    US$10,000 to 15,000.00 for Representative post, and US$15,000.00 to 20,000.00 for
    Senate post? This tells me, you and the Liberian people that friend of the Weah and CDC
    must have contributed some money in some form. Therefore, President may not be that
    wrong to set his mind on his friends and supporters for a position in his Government whom
    he is very happy and sure to work with. So, in a way to say that let the man President have
    his choice for smooth running of his Government, at least being the first cabinet and see
    what happen.

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