By Alex Yomah
The United States Embassy’s condemnation regarding integrity in its leadership was not only directed at Nimba County’s Senator Prince Johnson instead it was also inclusive of Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Varney Gboto-Nambi Sherman.
Cllr. Sherman is the chairperson on the Liberian Senate Judiciary, Claims, and Petitions Committee but the United States Treasury Department accused him of offering bribes to multiple judges associated with his trial in a 2010 bribery scheme that was investigated.
The US statement addressed to the Senate following its leadership election among other things said, “We note as well the continuation of Counselor Varney Sherman, sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury involving judicial bribery, as chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions.”
“By giving Senators Johnson and Sherman these leadership roles, the Senate is effectively ensuring that corruption and lack of accountability flourish,” the State Department reminded the Albert Chie leadership.
In the communication, Liberia’s protracted ally, the United States of America then resolved to withhold support for the Liberian army if Senator Johnson continues to serve as Chairperson on its National Defense, Intelligence, Security and Veterans Affairs Committee.
But following consultations, Johnson who was serving for the third time on this committee since he ascended as senator informed the public stating, “I will never want to stand in the way of support to our army in particular and Liberia in general.”
“In the same vain, I equally cannot afford to put the honorable Liberian Senate at odds with them in ways that will improve relations and foster national development,” Senator Johnson communicated in a resignation on Tuesday, July 6, 2021.
But what Liberians are wondering is whether Cllr. Sherman will follow suit, which Legislative pundits refer to as doing the ‘honorable thing’ to save Liberia as well as his own image by tendering in his resignation and pushing farther for an in-depth investigation since the communication from the United States Embassy’s damming report also included him for corruption.
It can recalled that the United States Treasury Department accused Senator Sherman, a prominent lawyer of also having an undisclosed conflict of interest with the judge who ultimately returned a not guilty verdict in in his interest in July 2019.
“Sherman has routinely paid judges to decide cases in his favor and he has allegedly facilitated payments to Liberian politicians to support impeachment of a judges who have ruled against him,” the report alleged.
In the 2010 scheme that led to this trial, Sherman was hired by a British mining company in an effort to obtain one of Liberia’s last remaining mining assets, the Wologizi iron ore concession.
The United States reports further alleged that, “Sherman advised the company that, in order to obtain the contract, they first had to get Liberia’s Procurement and Concessions Law changed by bribing senior officials.”
In 2016, Sherman was indicted by the Liberian government, along with several other government officials, for their involvement in the US$ 950,000 bribery scheme but in 2019, the presiding judge acquitted all individuals accused of being involved in the bribery scheme.
Will Cllr. Sherman Resign Too?
By Alex Yomah