The former Chairman of the beleaguered ruling Unity Party or UP Senator Varney Sherman has been licking his old wounds as his party sinks deep into factions-with one group believed to be headed by him, while another by President Sirleaf.
Sen. Sherman, one of the lead indictee in the over US$900,000 Global Witness alleged bribery case, says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has awarded him “evil” for all of his good services over the years to her.
He did not say though if that has been the root cause of the deepening divide within the UP, with a section loyal to him going toe to toe with this loyal to the President. But Sherman was indicted and subsequently put on trial along with several others, including ex-speaker Alex Tyler.
Addressing legislative reporters at his Capitol Building Office in Monrovia on Tuesday, 19 August Senator Sherman, who is ex-chairman of President Sirleaf’s governing Unity Party, narrates in frustration that following the 2005 General and Presidential elections, which they both contested as presidential candidates, President Sirleaf approached him and the Liberia Action Party (LAP) that he led as standard bearer, for a merger, which he wholeheartedly accepted, despite refusal by some powerful stalwarts of his party.
The Liberian corporate lawyer continues that he consented with the understanding that the deal for was in the best of the country.
Senator Sherman notes that in its final report and recommendations, the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that Madam Sirleaf should be barred from active politics, but he challenged the recommendation before the Supreme Court free of charge, adding that when Liberians rejected four proportions for national referendum, including tenure for presidency, he also took the matter before the Supreme Court and won the case to declare winner for legislative seat on the basis of simple majority.
According to him, President Sirleaf did not give him a dime for those legal services, but he did so purely on the basis of building cordial relationship with the President indirectly for the betterment of the Unity Party. During his entire tenure as chairman for the ruling party, relations with the then standard bearer, was rough.
Sherman further explains that when the merger deal was concluded with the Liberia Action Party, Liberia Unification Party and the Unity Party, which led to the second term victory of President Sirleaf, he raised millions of United States dollars to fund the President’s campaign activities.
However, he notes that the only award the President gave him was to indict him falsely on the Global Witness report, thereby derailing his hard earned characters built over the years.
According to him, he deserves better from the presidency than using a “British boy” to disdain his image in the name of politics or fighting corruption.
Cllr. Sherman, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, further laments that during the 2014 special senatorial election, President Sirleaf refused to support his bid for the senate despite his lobbying powers that he brought on the table of the Unity Party. He claims that he won 60 percent of the total votes cast without any support from her.
He argues that the reported changed of concession law, for which he is on trial, was done with the involvement of the European Union, the United States Agency for International Development or USAID, and other international groups.
A Global Witness Report released last year uncovered over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments by UK mining firm Sable Mining and its Liberian lawyer, Cllr. Varney Sherman.
President Sirleaf subsequently constituted a taskforce headed by Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Kofa to investigate, prosecute and hold those culpable to account. Sable Mining and Sherman reportedly paid bribes in order to change Liberia’s law and get their hands on one of its most prized assets, the Wologizi concession, according Jonathan Gant, Senior Campaigner with Global Witness. “The government must act fast and investigate Sable, Sherman, and the officials they paid.”
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne