ALJA opposes Liberian justice minister-designate

Cllr. Gibson’s appointment has drew a lot of criticism

The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) is urging President George Manneh Weah to revoke with immediacy the nomination of Cllr. Charles Gibson as Liberia’s justice minister.

ALJA said Cllr. Gibson lacks the moral rectitude to serve as Attorney General and Chief Prosecutor in the new Liberia which President Weah envisioned on January 22, 2018, when he took the oath of office as the nation’s 24th President.

The association in a press release issued on January, 29, 2018, said if President Weah’s professed claim of ending corruption in public offices is to come to fruition then he must begin with the withdrawal of Cllr. Gibson’s appointment.

The diaspora-based Liberian journalists maintained that Ambassador Weah cannot afford to hire and retain an Attorney General who has a shady past.

ALJA described as unfortunate recent media reports which indicated that the Supreme Court of Liberia in 2017 based on a probe conducted by the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Liberia National Bar Association suspended the Attorney General-designate from the practice of law in Liberia for two months due to his diversion of more than 25 thousand US dollars belonging to a client of his, GECCO, a local company based in Liberia.

ALJA reminded the president that the task of minimizing corruption in Liberia, where the menace has become a culture or way of life, goes beyond the making of flowery speeches and political gimmicks.

Although the association acknowledges that Cllr. Gibson has restituted the money he misapplied from GECCO and his license has been restored by the Supreme Court, he still remains unqualified for the post of Justice Minister. Quoting a legal maxim, the association declared “he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.”

The organization reiterated that because of Cllr. Gibson’s past criminal history, he cannot be a face of the George Weah administration’s criminal justice system.

ALJA National President Moses D. Sandy

ALJA noted that if the President refuses to withdraw the Attorney General’s nomination, the Liberian Senate should reject him when he appears before its Judiciary Committee for confirmation hearing on the basis of morality and ethical wrongdoing because the Justice Minister cannot be someone with a stained character.

Meanwhile, ALJA is calling on President Weah to also, put a freeze on the nominations of the Deputy Gender Minister-designate for Administration, Parleh Harris, Assistant Finance Minister-designate for Budget, Jesse B. Korboi and Deputy Finance Minister-designate for Administration, Yvette Freeman, for their reported link to financial malpractices by the Special Presidential Task Force then headed by Grand Kru County Representative, Fonati Koffa.

Based on an audit report released by the General Auditing Commission (GAC), the Special Presidential Task Force in a report released on October 17, 2017, asked the accused to restitute thousands of dollars they allegedly received from the expired Johnson-Sirleaf government for services that were not delivered.

Then the Task Force gave them the option to either restitute the money or face prosecution. The GAC report on the Ministry of Gender revealed that the Deputy Gender Minister-designate for Administration, Ms. Harris, reportedly misappropriated US$25,000 while the Assistant Finance Minister-designate for Budget, Jesse B. Korboi’s name was included among those, who allegedly took money illegally from the Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI).

For the Deputy Finance Minister-designate for Administration, Yvette Freeman, her name was also mentioned in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, which implicated some government ministries and agencies including the National Port Authority (NPA) for alleged acts of corruption.

ALJA said unless the accused are given the benefit of the doubt by going through a rigorous and speedy legal probe for the stated charges, President Weah should not allow their nominations to proceed. The association said taking such action would set a good precedent by the President as he endeavors to curb waste and corrupt practices in the public sector.

ALJA is a 501c (3) non-profit media advocacy group based in the United States of America (USA). The association is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas.

The organization was founded in 1998 in Washington, D.C. USA. ALJA is dedicated to fostering camaraderie amongst its members and their American counterparts; championing the cause of press freedom in Liberia through media advocacy, logistical support and training; and the promotion and fostering of the principle of good governance in Liberia through social justice advocacy.