-As sanction sinks in
Members of the Liberian Senate are reportedly divided over the recent sanction and barring of their colleague, Senator Varney Sherman by the Treasury Department of the United States government. On Thursday, February 04, the chambers of the senate snowballed in to a tense atmosphere when a report emanating from the leadership of the senate hit the floor relating to the decision by the US Government sanctioning Sherman.
On December 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted corrupt actors and their networks across several countries in Africa and Asia. The, actions the US Government claimed are taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implementing the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse.
In 2010, Harry Varney Gboto-Nambi Sherman (Sherman), now a prominent lawyer, Liberian Senator, and Chair of the Liberian Senate Judiciary Committee, 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. Sherman advised the company that, in order to obtain the contract, they first had to get Liberia’s 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 USD 950,000 bribery scheme.
In 2019, the presiding judge acquitted all individuals accused of being involved in the bribery scheme. Sherman offered bribes to multiple judges associated with his trial and had an undisclosed conflict of interest with the judge who ultimately returned a not guilty verdict in July 2019,” the sanction regime noted.
Cllr. Sherman had earlier written the plenary of the senate for intervention on the decision of the US Government against his person and law firm.
Following the reading of the report from the leadership of the senate in plenary, Senator Steve Zargo asserted that Sherman was not given due process and that it is banding on the senate to make inquires and intervene on behalf of him (Sherman) for the way forward.
Zargo, of the Liberty Party explained that US Government is fully aware of due process under the law and that the senate is under moral obligation to seek information and detailed the information surroundings the matter.
But he was resisted by River Gee County Senator, Mr. ConmanyWesseh who indicated that the Liberian Senate has no say into the matter and that the matter is of more personal to Senator Sherman.
According to him, former President Charles Taylor, Benoni Urey, Chief Cyril Allen, and many other Liberians were placed under sanction for various reasons, and those affected serve penalties and some later free, while others are still facing restriction.
Wesseh added that Sherman did not get sanction because of his role in the Liberian Senate. Instead in his private life and career.
Sen. Wesseh furthered that the senate has no part to play in the saga and besides, the precious time of the Liberian Senate cannot be wasted on something that is not before that august body.
Responding to Mr. Wesseh, Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay argued that Cllr. Sherman is part of the senate and anything that affects him should be a concerned to body.
For his part, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darious Dillon suggested that the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations be engaged to use persuasive diplomatic engagement to resolve the matter.
Adding his comment to the argument, Gbarpolu Senator Daniel Naatehn noted, the fact the United States Government has not written the senate or the Liberian government, it suggest that the matter is more personal then national one.
But Margibi County Senator Emmanuel James Nuquay differed on grounds that Cllr. Sherman is a Liberian and for the fact he (Sherman) wrote the senate that gives the reason for the senate intervention.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Othello B. Garblah