President Weah Withdraws Justice Minister-designate

Amidst controversy over the credibility of the Justice Minister-designate, Cllr. Charles Gibson, the President of the small West African nation of Liberia Mr. George Manneh Weah has withdrawn the nomination after weeks of confirmation hearing.

Photo of National Coat Of Arms of LiberiaWest African Journal Magazine’s correspondent in Monrovia  quotes State House, the Executive Mansion, as saying the decision was made in an official communication to the Liberia Senate Pro-Temp Albert Chie of Grand Kru County and Justice Minister-designate Cllr. Charles Gibson for the withdrawal of he, Cllr. Charles Gibson, who was accused of extorting money from his client.

Late on Tuesday, the Liberian President, who has promised to run a “pro-poor government” withdrew the nomination of the Cllr. Gibson after weeks of thorough investigation.

The country’s high court on Friday, February 24, 2017 suspended Counselor Charles H. Gibson’ s law license for two months for duping his client, identified as one Anwar A. Saoud  of  $25,322 USD while serving as his defense counsel over a period of two years.

Cllr. Gibson misled his client on whose behalf he had instituted a series of lawsuits to recover loans and other business activities. The lawyer refused to account for the $25,322 USD he had for his client Mr. Saoud.

In delivering the high court’s judgment, Associate Justice Sie-A- Nyene Yuoh said her decision was based on findings of both the Grievance and Ethics Committee and Amicus Curiae (friend of the Supreme Court) brief.
Amicus Curiae is a group that is not a party to the case, but assists the Court by offering free legal services and facts to the court.
It was the two groups’ report that led to the suspension of Cllr Gibson.

Liberia Justice Minister Nominee Counselor Charles Gibson
Liberia Justice Minister Nominee Counselor Charles Gibson

According to Justice Yuoh, Cllr Gibson’s action as a lawyer breached Rule 15 of the attorney – client relationship. “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,” the sanction ruling against Cllr Gibson noted.

Shed emphasized that Cllr Gibson’s law  license was suspended for two months and he is mandated to pay back his client’s money; and until the money was paid he would not practice law in the country.

Before the suspension, Mr. Saoud had complained about Gibson’s attitude to the Grievance and Ethics Committee.
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.

Flag of Liberia
Flag of Liberia

During the inauguration of President George M. Weah, he stressed on how his government would fight corruption because according to him it is one of the vices that is damaging the country economically.

In addition to the two-month suspension of Counselor Charles Gibson’s license, the Supreme Court imposed a two-month ban on him from the practice of law in the Republic.

Interestingly, Cllr. Gibson, apparently upon learning that he would be named to the country’s Justice Department got his law license reinstated.

The administration late Wednesday nominated Counselor Frank Musa Dean, counsel for the National Elections Commission(NEC) which just presided over-Presidential and General Elections. He will now go to the Liberian Senate for confirmation proceedings.

By Lincoln Barcon reporting from Monrovia