It appears that renowned Liberian lawyer and Senator of Grand Cape Mount County Cllr. Varney G. Sherman has smelled the rat that he could end up with same fate of embattled Speaker J. Alex Tyler, who was pressurized to recuse himself from presiding over session in the wake of his criminal indictment.
Both Senator Sherman and embattled Speaker Tyler were indicted by the State along with others in May following U.K.-based Global Witness report, linking them and several past and present officials to requesting and receiving over US$950,000 bribe from Britain’s Sable Mining Company to change Liberian concession laws in its favor.
After a period of resistance to call from his colleagues (majority lawmakers) to step aside, Tyler finally recused himself last Thursday as Speaker of the House of Representatives in order to go thru his trial.
Senator Sherman, who is also legal representative of Sable Mining in Liberia, is afraid that he could also be booted out anytime by his colleagues in the Senate, and has gone down on his knees, begging them to declare a vote of confidence in him in an apparent sign of re-assurance that they will not ask him to recuse himself as the Lower house similarly did to Speaker Tyler.
Reports gathered by this paper indicates that already, 14 of the 30 members of the Liberian Senator have signed a resolution to effect this decision, but they would need at least two-thirds (20 senators) of their membership in accordance with rules of the senate to have him step aside.
The entire Chambers of the Liberian Senate Tuesday was a place of drama as debate unfolded characterized by bitter exchanges when Senator Sherman’s letter of plea to his colleagues to express a vote of confidence in him to continuously chair the Senate Judiciary Committee was read. Sherman, like Tyler, faces an indictment on multiple charges, including economic sabotage, bribery, criminal solicitation, criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy.
The communication dated September 3, which was read in the Senate plenary states that the request has become necessary because of rumors and innuendoes spreading in the corridors of the Liberian Senate, which must mandatorily be put to rest.
“As the Liberian Senate may recall, I was elected as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee unopposed and I have strived to serve to the best of my ability, including successfully making representations to the Supreme Court in defense of the senate on at least two occasions. If at this time the senate no longer has confidence in me to continue to serve, I shall be glad to quietly relinquish the post. On the other hand, if the senate continues to have confidence in me to serve as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I suggest that such confidence be shown by a clear vote of the senate plenary. Otherwise, the work I do as member and chairman will be irreparably hampered. I implore the understanding of the senate for this vote of confidence,” the letter stated.
But River Gee County Senator Conmany Wesseh terms the communication as ‘useless’ on grounds that the senate does not have the authority to declare vote of no confidence in someone who has personal thinking to do same, and that it would be good were Senator Sherman to step aside in order to face prosecution.
Senator H. Dan Morias of Maryland County similarly concurs that it would be the honorable thing for the well-learned senator to submit to the prosecution and step aside from his position as head of the Judiciary Committee because the committee has oversight on the Judiciary Branch, so presiding over such committee, while facing court trial will create conflict of interest, which could undermine the prosecution.
But Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Alphonso Gaye argued members of the Liberian Senate lack the moral to question the hard earned character of Senator Sherman on the basis of mere indictment.
According to him, some senators traveled to the United States of America on personal matters for months, and still the Government of Liberia pays them for the period they are reportedly absent, adding such practice is corruption.
With the writing on the wall, including signatories being gathered, some say it is just a matter of time, and Senator Sherman could face the same fate of Speaker Tyler. Editing by Jonathan Browne