Once again, Monrovia’s politically-conscious rumor mill is actively engaged sincethe publication of the investigative report, the Deceivers, and allegations by Global Witness (GW) against some highly-placed, top officials of our government for wholesale dishonesty/corruption and, also, the Thompson Reuters’ investigative report starring LISCR, Liberia’s contractedShip Registry Manager. This investigation/report says that “Liberia is the epicenter for drug financing and illicit flow of funds from other poor countries via a secretive and shady scheme”.
But the report/allegations or “revelations” by Global Witness have been, and are, the“talk of the town”, Monrovia – in executive suites, offices, posh restaurants, cook shops, dinner tables at homes“and side walk “debates”.In fact, this, also, is talk of the nation, in towns and villages of the Counties, Nationwide, because of the level of officials accused.
For examples, the Honorable Alexander Tyleris Speaker of the Nation’s House of Representatives andthird in line of succession to the highest position in the land, the presidency;while the learned Counselor-at-Law, the Honorable Varney G. Sherman is not only Chairman of the Ruling, Unity Political Party(of which the current President is Flag Bearer) but also, that Cllr. Sherman is confidante and Special, Political/Legal Advisor to the Nation’s President, Senator for Grand Cape Mount County,Senate Committee Chairman on the Judiciary and Corporate Attorney/Legal Advisor to many of the foreign-owned, influential/influence-peddling corporations, including all, almost, the Lebanese-owned firms, Firestone and the giant, mining companies, such as the PutuMining, ArcelorMital and theWologizimining concession-seeking Sable Mining Company.
Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of the average Liberian is uneducated, unemployed, poor, hungry, often sick, but no medicine; he/she, likely, lives in one of Monrovia’s over-populated, over-crowded, unsanitary enclaves (suburbs) with no safe drinking water, electricity, police protection, children hardly attend school, communities with few paved/unpaved streets/roads/paths (let alone in the counties, nationwide), but over-crowded with fancy, top-of-the-line automobiles, chauffeur-driven and owned by the highly-placed officials in government who are paid an average monthly salary of some US$10,000 plus allowance for housing, electric generator, fuel, repairs and travel, domestic and foreign.
In the light of the socio-economic plight of the average Liberian citizen and the reasonably adequate employment benefits offered by the Liberian government now enjoyed by the highly-placed officials, one would think that these privileged, highly-placed officials would apply the essential principles of Investment Climate – Political stability, Rule of Law and Liberal Free-market Economic Policy — designed to attract and retain highly-qualified and prudent investment promoters, during these days of razor-sharped competition for direct foreign investment, for the common benefit of investor, the state and its citizens.
Despite this reasonably prevailing condition available to our highly-placed officials of government, theychose,reportedly, to engage in and now stand accused of stealing, excessively,from meager, public resources.The common, average Liberian is exceedingly, reasonably, angered, vexed.
Mad, also, are some of Monrovia’s daily newspapers – the New Dawn, Heritage, Womenvoicesand others. These papers published editorials and related stories, requesting that the President of Liberia demand those officials to resign their privileged position while awaiting court trial. The Liberian Political Class The terms Political Class describe a relatively small group of informed, highly-educated, socio-political activists/advocates for a just socio-political order. From this group, national leadership is often and largely drawn. Motivated by the knowledge that public service or “politics” is dedicated/committed to just, fair and open socio-political order in the service of the people, especially, periodic change and reforms, the Political Class lives “politics” for the sake of “politics”, as it were, and aslifetime careers.
Comparatively, the Liberian Political Class, is a group of individuals from different backgrounds – socio-cultural and historical experience -that considers“politics” as an “excellent opportunityto get rich quick”through graft and greed, dishonesty/corruption; through shady wheeling and dealing through lies, deceit, thievery, banditry, brutality, intimidation, blackmail and murders of fellow citizens for political and economic gain.
Today, on the one hand, an overwhelming majority of Liberia’sPolitical Class is ill-informed and ignorant not only of the rudiments of Liberian History, fundamental, essential requirements of political leadership, but also, ignorant of the basic elements of group dynamics, necessary to build policy clarity, consensus, mutual respect and understanding, cordiality, peaceful co-existence and national security.There is widespread practice of ethnic/tribal segregation/discrimination and exclusion, leading to the prevailing multiplicity of tribal, political parties (now 22 and counting) in our small country of less than 4 million people.
On the other hand, a minority of the Liberian Political Class is highly educated and experienced, with undergraduate/graduate degrees in, almost, all relevant, political leadership disciplines, from Ivy League colleges and universities worldwide, but consumed by the Liberian notion of “excellent opportunities to get rich quick”; therefore, these academics, scholars and intellectuals ignored, consciously, rationality in politics.
Perhaps, this condition explains the conspicuous, painful absence on the political scene and experience of a “Liberian”Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Chinua Achebe, Fidel Castro, CheGuevara,etc., academic/intellectual, political activists/advocates and true revolutionarieswhose love for and dedication to “politics” were and are for politics and the “human condition”. Presidential Task Force It is very, very important that the President stay clear out of the preliminary investigation. She should and must appoint an independent Special Prosecutor, given authority to select and appoint his/her attorneys and investigators. As was done in the past (US, Ghanian Pathologists, Keyan Accountants, etc.), the President should and must request the United States for an experienced prosecutor for this case. Let us leave out our Africans, this time.The reasons for this approach are compelling:
a) The President is Titular Head of the Liberian Political Class, Members of which now stand accused. Example is, particularly, Honorable Morris Saytumah, who served as the President’s Advisor on Legal/Economic Affairs. He is, presently, Senator for Bomi County, the President’s home County, and member of the President’s Unity, Political Party. b) As such, a Presidential Task Force under the immediate direction of the President is seen, will be seen, as “Police policing the Police”, a condition which implies that there is something to hide.
Could it Happen Here? The FrontPageAfrica newspaper asked the question, as it appears above, whether or not Liberia is willing to arrest, try and send to prison, if convicted, former, current and prominent officials of the Liberian government who are accused of accepting millions of US dollars in bribes to change Liberian laws on the books(in force and effect) to benefit a private mining company and themselves?.
In the United States, similar cases took placewith the powerful, Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mr.Dennis Hastert, who was arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison for sexual molestation of minors and paying bribes to cover to cover up; and US House Representative, Mr. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who, also, was arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own re-election contribution funds.
To this question, we answer as follows: Yes,this can and must happen here, with a Special Prosecutor appointed by the Presidentas indicated under Presidential Task Force above.If there is any time for Liberia to stand tall, it is now.Liberia must summon the “guts”, courage and the “political will” to investigate, prosecute, convict and sendand send the guilty to prison in this case, irrespective of socio-political standing. Importantly, this preliminary investigation and, eventual, trial by a court of law, are necessary to re-gain and re-establish Liberia’s name, reputation, honor and standing in and among the comity of nations.
Liberian, Lawyerly Approach The Honorable Senator and Counselor-at-Law,Varney G. Sherman, the Star and central figure of the GW revelations/allegations of serious law violations, introduced the foundation of his defense“that it is the President’s prerogative to appoint a task force (to investigate him), but it is his right not to appear (andeven,testify)”. The Senator/Counselor-at-Law continued, “ifFonatiKofa(a Cllr.-at-Law and Chairman of the Task Force) were . . . to ask me a question . . . I will ask him(Kofa) how come you are asking me questions . . . you can’t be a Liberian Lawyer and not know about confidentiality” (FrontPageAfrica, May 17, 2016).
Our layman’s desire for the truth drove us todesk-top research on the issue of Attorney-Client Privilege, the apparent basis of the Senator’s claim.Indeed, it is the oldest privilege recognized and practicedby “Anglo-American jurisprudence. In fact, the principles of the . . . privilege may be traced all the way back to the Roman Republic, and its use was firmly established in English law as early as the reign of Elizabeth I in the 16th century. Grounded in the concept of honor, the privilege worked to bar any testimony by the attorney against the client”.
“However, as the Privilege has evolved, many ‘policy justifications’ played a role in its development. At its most basic, the privilege ensures that one who seeks advice or aid from a lawyer should be completely free of any fear that his secrets will be uncovered.Thus, the security of the privilege ensures that the client may speak frankly and openly to legal counsel, disclosing all relevant information to the attorney and creating (what has come to be known as a) ‘zone of privacy’. In other words, shielded by the privilege, the client may be more willing to communicate to counsel things that might otherwise be suppressed. ‘In theory, such candor and honesty will assist the attorney in providing more accurate, well-reasoned professional advice, and the client can be secure in the knowledge that his statements to his lawyer will not be taken as an adverse admission or used against his interest’. . . Armed with full knowledge, counselors at law are better equipped to ‘satisfy all of their professional responsibilities (obligations), uphold their duties of good faith and loyalty to the client and contribute to the efficient administration of justice.By its very nature, the attorney-client relationship affords a distinct, invaluable right to have communications protected from compelled disclosure to any third party, including business associates and competitors, government agencies and even criminal justice authorities”.
But there are exceptions, as in the case of every rule.In this case, the exceptions are distinct, legally binding and inescapable. Honorable Sherman is an employeeof the state at the highest, policy-making level and, simultaneously, serving as attorney/advisor to private interests adverse to the state and its citizens. This duality, among others, questions and/or nullifies the application of the Attorney-Client Privilege.
In the event of refusal by Cllr. Shermanor anyone of the accused, to submit to lawful summons by the Special prosecutor, he, Cllr. Sherman or any of the accused must be arrested for Obstruction of Justice, in the light of the fact that documentary evidence shows that a crime has been committed, for which Cllr. Sherman and the others are accused.