Ruling Unity Party (UP) immediate past chairman Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman has come to town. He says suggestion that he is masterminding an impeachment proceeding against Justices Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokolie is untrue and intended to create a set of new enemies for him.
In an effort to counter claims that he is behind the impeachment of the justices, Sen. Sherman provides historical accounts to a joint interview on 9 August relating to how he has come a long way with each of the embattled justices, and how he served both as lawyer for President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf in the days of her struggle before later becoming her political ally in recent years.
“I do not have the time or energy to be involved in the impeachment proceeding and I certainly am not behind what is happening,” Sherman tells a joint interview at his office at the Liberian Senate on Capitol Hill Wednesday, 9 August.
Sen. H. Dan Morais of Maryland, Grand Kru Senators Dr. Peter Coleman and Numene Bartekwa, Margibi Senator James Tornola and Bong County Rep. George Mulbah began a push here to have the three justices impeached following the Supreme Court’s decision in the controversial Code of Conduct in July.
The Court’s decision received mix public reaction here after it overturned the National Elections Commission’s disbarment of opposition Liberty Party’s vice presidential candidate Harrison Karnwea on grounds that his violation of the controversial Code of Conduct was not egregious to warrant his disbarment from the October presidential and representatives’ elections.
But Sen. Sherman, who stands at the center of accusation to have the justices impeached, emphatically says that there’s no reason to get back at the President. Instead, he makes conclusion that what the FrontPageAfrica assumption does “is to create set of new enemies to give the impression to the embattled justices that he is responsible for the situation that they are in.
“Gentlemen, why do you forget? Kabineh Ja’neh is on that [Supreme Court] Bench because of me, and you guys have forgotten. In Liberia, the Senate rejected him twice after he was nominated. Then they eventually confirmed him,” Sen. Sherman says in reflection on his role as counsel for Justice Ja’neh back then.
Even after Justice Ja’neh’s confirmation, Cllr. Sherman further recalls how the civil society here challenged him through a prohibition, an occasion the veteran lawyer says he further seized by accompanying Justice Ja’neh at the Supreme Court to stand for him in the legal battle.
He argues that if he had lost the case, the embattled Justice Ja’neh would never had sat on the Supreme Court Bench, thereby leaving him to wonder how he could just come from the U.S. where he has been taking treatment and wants to impeach the man he fought so hard to get him sitting on the Bench.
“You guys were not journalists at that time right,” he jokingly inquired, and adds that “I [am] the one who defended him at the Supreme Court and we won the case.”
Regarding Justice Jamesetta Howard - Wolokolie, Sen. Sherman recalls that she met her husband back in the days at his (Sherman’s) house at a party for which he (Sherman) had invited Madam Wolokolie and the man that would have become her husband later. “You might not believe it, but at her wedding, I was one of the best men,” Sen. Sherman says of Justice Wolokolie.
He additionally recalls that he and Justice Phillip A.Z. Banks worked on the Opinion of the Supreme Court, and that the embattled justice also served as his teacher at the law school.
Sherman, however, agrees that if these justices have done something wrong, they will answer for their wrongs except that he personally doesn’t have the time and energy to go after impeaching them.
As it relates to President Sirleaf, Sen. Sherman admits that it is public knowledge that “President Sirleaf and I do not have the best relationship.” “That is a fire I do not want anybody to waste gas on, gasoline on. There’s no need to put gasoline on that,” he tells the interview in response to the local daily’s report that he wants to get back at the President.
While admitting that he and the President have some serious differences, Sen. Sherman, however, says he considers it as something that happens to politicians. But he expresses believe that people are making up stories to make the fire blow up more and create enmity between him and the president.
In reflection on his health condition when he publicly fell off and fainted here on 11 May during the endorsement of Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai by majority Senators on Capitol Hill, Sen. Sherman says he traveled to the U.S. upon recovering from coma and did not return until the Supreme Court made its decision.
He says he also remained in the U.S. until protest against the Supreme Court’s decision started here in Liberia. “When Sen. Dan Morais in the newspaper, was in the media rejecting the Supreme Court decision, when several other people and organizations were in the media rejecting the Supreme Court’s decision, I was [not] in the country. I definitely was not in the country,” he says.
He says he cannot see how he was in the U.S. and be so powerful in manipulating the lawmakers that were protesting the Supreme Court decision to seek the impeachment of the justices.
To back his claims of innocence to the impeachment proceedings, Sen. Sherman recalls how he earlier opposed Sen. Dan Morais’ proposal made on the Senate floor to repeal the Code of Conduct.
In its publication, FrontPageAfrica attributes to an alleged anonymous lawmaker that it is not a coincidence that all of these started only when Sen. Sherman returns to the country.
It alleges that the Grand Cape mount County Senator wants to get even with President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf, and claims that its anonymous source suggests that it highly suspects Sen. Sherman of being the mastermind of the impeachment proceeding behind the scene.
But Sen. Sherman says he believes that the local daily wants to put him in confrontation with the Supreme Court. “Am I the one who was among the civil society people who challenged the Supreme Court decision, who complained about it? Am I the one?” Sen. Sherman wonders.
He declines to comment on the ongoing impeachment proceedings on grounds that when an impeachment proceeding is commenced; the impeachment trial will be conducted by the Liberian Senate of which he is a member.
He says the Senate sits as the jury while the Chief Justice sits as the judge, and therefore tells the interview that “it wouldn’t be proper for me to comment on the proceeding that is now going on in House.”
By doing so, he says, he would compromise his position and would not be able to serve on the … jury if that matter ever reaches the Liberian Senate.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah