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Liberia: “We’re Innocent”, Prominent Lawyer Varney Sherman And House Speaker Granted Bill in Global Witness Corruption Scandal

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Courtesy of Adolphus Lake

Author: Symthe Socrates Saywon

saywonsocrates3@gmail.com

Monrovia– Prominent Liberian Lawyer, Senator Varney Sherman was arrested early Wednesday Morning and appeared before Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in the Liberian Capital, Monrovia on allegation of bribery involving Sable, a British Mining Company  which a British watchdog group, Global Witness uncovered.

Cllr. Varney Sherman

Cllr. Varney Sherman

granted  bond and left the court awaiting trial.

Cllr Sherman addressed the crowd gathered outside the grounds of the Temple of Justice, thanking them for their support and said he received the Writ of Arrest from Sheriffs and signed for and submitted to it.

Senator Sherman, who is also Chairman of  the Senate Judiciary Committee, said “we are innocent,”- “when I came out of his house to leave for the court after submitting to  Arrest, I met 25 police men in his yard and I don’t know why the Liberian government will send 25 police officers to arrest  him, the Chairman of the ruling Unity Party”.

Speaker Alex Tyler

                                                          Speaker Alex Tyler

Sky International Insurance Corporation while Cllr. Varney Sherman, ECB Jones and  Christopher Onanuga through the Sky International Insurance Corporation paid a criminal bond of 1.5 million US dollars while the Speaker of the Liberian Legislature who is also indicted by the Grand Jury paid a criminal bond of  $US150,000.00 and awaiting trial.

The Speaker of the Liberian House of Representative, Alex Tyler, Cllr. Varney Sherman and other Co- defendants were charged with the commission of Bribery, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal Sabotage, Criminal Solicitation and Criminal Facilitation by the grand Jury of Montserrado County.

The indictment also accused the defendants of jointly and individually demanding compensation for the performance of their official duty thereby committing the act of bribery.

The Grand Jurors noted that the defendants purpose of effectuating their criminal intent, conspired to sabotage the economics of the country which it said was calculated into a scheme to generate personal interest at the expense of the citizenry.

No date has been set for the assignment for the case to commence the prosecution of the defendants.

Human rights lawyer Tiawon Gongloe says the ongoing probe of Cllr. Varney Sherman and other officials of government for bribery as alleged in a Global Witness report should serve as the beginning of a vigorous process in the fight against corruption in Liberia.

Gongloe said this should also be seen as the beginning of cleansing government so that it can be considered a respectable institution and its officials respected by the people they serve.

The ex-Solicitor General believes that the ongoing corruption saga involving prominent current and ex-officials of government proves that the government is adding more vigor to the fight against corruption.

He wants the government to be holistic in prosecuting corrupt officials by revisiting other prominent cases such as the mismanagement of state funds at the National Oil Company of Liberia, among others.

Speaking to journalists at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia Wednesday, Gongloe stressed that because of the pervasive nature of corruption in the country there is not much respect for officials of government as the public sees every government official to be corrupt.

Making reference to the recent U.S. State Department Report, Gongloe noted that the report virtually indicted every branch of the Liberian Government for wrongdoing, adding that such report is not good for Liberia.

Gongloe urged the government to ensure that the ongoing probe of the corruption allegation is conducted in a credible manner so that Liberia can be seen as a credible nation where public officials can be trusted and respected.

According to him, if the case is politicized, the integrity of the entire process would be undermined, noting, “We want a case based upon evidence and I believe that the government knows the risk of proceeding with a criminal case for which there is not sufficient evidence.”The National Director of civil society group, Citizens Solidarity Movement of Liberia  through the National President, Morris A. S Swen is commending the rule of law in Liberia in the Global Witnesscorruption scandal investigation, noting that “the indictment, arrest and subsequent release on bill of Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. G. Varney Sherman and Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. J. Alex  Tyler indicates  victory for the rule of law and the Justice system of our country”.

Speaking in an exclusive interview Mr. Swen said , “Cllr. Sherman’s refusal to appear before the Special Task Force setup by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf does not signify any form of disrespect but a clear demonstration to the adherence to the rule of law, his Citizens Solidarity  Movement will also acknowledge the importance of the role of the Special Presidential Task Force in the fight against corruption.” 

The Citizens Solidarity Movement Prewsident calls on President Sirleaf to “broaden the mandate of the Task Force and don’t limit it to the alleged Sable Mining bribery scheme-we are aware of the negative consequences experienced by ordinary Liberians as a result of corrupt practices in high places and it has now become imperative  that the Special Task Force begins a process of  looking into the possibiity of going after ofcials and institutions accussed in the various General Auditing Commission’s audit reports”

 “The Task Force must also muster the courage to review all of the facts and circumstances that led to the premature bankruptcy experienced by the National Oil Company of Liberia and that the action on the part of the task force will exemplify and/or demonstrate the President’s preparedness to rid the Liberian government of the Vampire called “CORRUPTION”, the civil society group President asserted.

“The Citizens Solidarity Movement will make it categorically clear that reports generated by foreign institutions relative to the fight against corruption are equally important like the ones released by independent graft fighting institutions in the country, as such the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit reports since 2006 and subsequent investigative reports complied by the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) must all be put before the Special Presidential Task Force for prompt action as in the case of the Sable Mining allege bribery scheme,” Mr Swen emphasized.

 

 

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