The administration of President George Weah has in recent days been busy with two major activities—appointment of public officials to do the Liberian people’s work and confirmation process of these officials through the Liberian Senate.
Constitutionally, the Senate undertakes the confirmation process by scrutinizing an official through examining his/her academic credentials and moral character. This is the process that the Justice Minister-designate, Cllr. Charles Gibson, is undergoing following his appointment as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia.
When Cllr. Gibson appeared before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions on January 31, 2018, our Senate Correspondent, J. Burgess Carter, reported that the Justice Minister-designate proposed that the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), the Law Reform Commission (LRC), and the Governance Commission (GC) should be dissolved or revisited for reorganization.
On this matter, according to our Correspondent, the Justice Minister-designate charged that despite US$20 million allotments to the LACC, it is yet to be on record for prosecuting a case of corruption in Liberia. But the LACC, in a press conference last Thursday, effectively defended itself.
It is also interesting to note that the Senate Committee did not also shrink from asking Cllr. Gibson about his moral character and integrity, especially on the issue of corruption in which he has been involved, having been convicted and later suspended from legal practice by the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Responding to a question as to whether or not he has the integrity and morality to take on the position of Justice Minister of the Republic, considering his involvement in duping his client of US$25,400, Cllr. Gibson attempted to respond by displaying the ruling from the Supreme Court which he said had cleared him.
Here is a lawyer who was suspended along with his license for duping a client, and commanded by the Supreme Court to repay his client the US$25,400 he owed the said client, but flatly refused to pay the amount which he had committed to his personal use. But Cllr. Gibson hurriedly raised the amount and paid it only after he learned that he was about to be appointed Justice Minister-designate, which would make him Dean of the Supreme Court Bar.
Does Cllr. Gibson’s conscience guide him against wrongdoing? or does he care at all about morals? Does he honor and respect the Supreme Court? Is he faithful to his clients as a lawyer? If so, then why did he eat his client’s money?
Having fallen from grace by willfully cheating his clients, and also having ignored the ruling of the Supreme Court that he should repay the US$25,400, and having hurried to honor the Court’s ruling only after he learned of his appointment as Justice Minister, with what conscience and moral capability does he accept this position?
It is our considered opinion that Counselor Gibson should respectfully decline this appointment and accord the President of Liberia the opportunity of naming a more reputable person to this position. Do not embarrass our President by causing him to name to such a lofty and highly reputable position a man who was dishonorably and shamefully removed by the very Legal Bar of which, as Justice Minister, he stands to be Dean.
This would be a travesty (mockery, sham) of justice.
Counselor Gibson, do not force the hand of President Weah to withdraw this appointment. Just tell him, “Sorry, Sir; I hereby decline the nomination, and I thank you for having thought of me.”
But if the counselor lacks the integrity of asking that his name be withdrawn, we strongly suggest that the Liberian Senate should NOT confirm his nomination. By so doing, the Senate would let it be known that it is setting our Presidency to a higher standard. This would be good for Liberia.
It would help President Weah to make good his pledge that he would not tolerate any corrupt practices in his government.
Let us remember that the Ministry of Justice is one of the PRIME integrity institutions in the government. The first place anyone suspected of corrupt practices is sent to is the Ministry of Justice for investigation. The Ministry, therefore, cannot, must not be headed by one convicted by the highest legal arbiter of the land, the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Confirming Counselor Charles Gibson as Minister of Justice and Attorney General would send a very wrong signal, which President Weah and his government will one day regret.