Senator (Counselor) Varney Sherman

Written by Joel Cholo Brooks | Globe Afrique’s West Africa Bureau Chief|

The high-profile alleged bribery and corruption case which drew the attention of Liberians and the international community, both at home and abroad, based on Global Witness’ alleged published fabrication that some former and current Liberian government officials were bribed to have certain provisions of the ‘Non-bidding areas’ changed or altered in the revised 2005 Public Procurement and Concessions Commission  (PPCC) Law which eventually became the 2010 PPCC Law turned out to be an unfounded information with no basis in facts and truths, according to the testimonies of two officials designate of Liberia’s Ministry of Land, Mines & Energy.

The two Land, Mines, and Energy officials, both deputy and assistant ministers have publicly exonerated those Liberians accused and mentioned in the Global Witness’s report, The Deceivers – Global Witness  of any wrongdoing before the Liberian Senate.

Addressing a news conference on Saturday afternoon, February 17, 2018, at his Law Firm, Counselor Varney Sherman who is also a Senator of Grand Cape County in the Liberian Senate, noted that the two Liberian officials from the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy said at their respective confirmation hearings for the positions of deputy and assistant ministers before the Liberian Senate that contrary to the Global Witness’ report, The Deceiver, they were among several officials at the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy (during the Sirleaf Administration) who made the change to the PPFC Law.  They two officials further admitted that Section 75 of the law was inserted as part of the amendment of the 2005 PPCC Act which eventually became the 2010 PPCC Act.

As Liberia’s Land, Mines & Energy Officials’ Testimonies Exonerate Global Witness’ Accused Persons In Liberia, The Prime Target Of The Sirleaf’s Administration’s Selective Justice And Witch-Hunt Ploy,  Grand Cape Mount County Senator (Counselor) Varney Sherman Frowns On Negative Reportage Sponsored By The ‘Special Presidential Taskforce’ Which Used More Than $2 Million United States Dollars to Investigate A Ploy And Made-Up Allegations.

The Evolving Questions Are:

  • Why Did The So-Called Special Presidential Taskforce Spend More Than $2 Million Dollars To Pursue A Ploy And Political Witch-Hunt In A County Where Poverty Reigns?

  • Will The Taskforce Account For The Expenditure? How And For What The Money Was Used?

  • Why Didn’t The Corrupt Sirleaf Administration Use The More Than $2 Million Dollars To Investigate Legitimate Corruption Such As The Open Theft At The Country Breakdown National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), And The Failed $18 Million United States Dollars Road Construction Contract Involving Nigerian National Tony Lawal and His Liberian Associates Etc?

PDF]The Real Deceivers – Globe Afrique

In the ‘The Deceivers’ report published by the Global Witness, it is alleged that Counselor Sherman single-handedly distributed $950,000.00 United States dollars on behalf of Sable Mining, to bribe former and current Liberian government officials to insert a clause into the amendment to the 2005 PPCC Act in section 75. By so doing, Global Witness alleges that it would have provided Sable Mining access to non-binding areas in Liberia’s mineral laws.

Global Witness’ unfounded and non-verifiable research dossier, The Deceiver, alleges that the intent of the ‘bribery and corruption saga’ was that Sable Mining would be able to singularly get the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.

In their testimony, the two Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy’s officials explained that the action was taken in collaboration with those who were at the PPCC at the time, and with the assistance of international experts who were clothed with the authority to supervise the process at the time.

Addressing journalists, Counselor Sherman spoke about his 65th birth anniversary, noting that the latest disclosure by the Ministry of Land, Mines and Energy’s officials designate has made his day.

Adding, “Despite all of the persecutions by the media and detractors, it has clearly come to light of our innocence,” Counselor Sherman told journalists during the news conference.

During Globe Afrique and GNN-Liberia investigation into the Global Witness’ allegation, it was observed, disclosed, documented and brilliantly reported that the change in the 2005 PPCC Act was not made for the purposes stated in the Global Witness’s report, The Deceivers, and that no bribes were paid by Sable Mining directly or indirectly through Senator (Counselor) Varney Sherman to influence the change of the 2005 PPC Act as been insinuated in many quarters.

Globe Afrique and GNN-Liberia’s investigation also revealed that Global Witness did not conduct any detailed and thorough investigation as it should have been.  The Europe-based watchdog organization also did not talk to those international agencies and consultants who assisted the Liberian Government in changing the law.  Neither did its researcher and reporters speak to the Liberian participants who were involved in the process of changing the law.

In addition, it was also discovered, as it has done in other countries, that Global Witness hacked into the email of Counselor Varney Sherman and the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm, illegally obtained email messages and in the process injected information in the emails to make its publication appear credible.  Hacking into one’s email illegally and obtaining messages from an individual’s or entity’s email account is regarded as a cybercrime in Western nations, but in Africa, some western NGOs like Global Witness can do these things with no legal drawback or course of action.

Other accused by Global Witness’s unfounded and story-telling report, The Deceivers, included Senator Cletus Wortorson, former president of the Liberian Senate, Sumo Kupee, former managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, and Fumbah Sirleaf, former director of the National Security Agency and step-son of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  These three former Liberian government officials, including the president’s step-son, debunked the allegations and report by Global Witness as false and misleading.

Former president Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf selected to believe the accounts of her step-son Fumbah Sirleaf and that of Honorable Sumo Kupee and Honorable Cletus Wortorson against Global Witness’s ‘false reporting,’ but intentionally decided to use the same Global Witness’ report, The Deceiver, to go after prominent Liberian officials (like Dr. Frank Tolbert, former chairman of the National Investment Commission; Honorable Alex Tyler, former speaker of the House of Representatives, and Senator Varney Sherman, former chairman of the ruling Unity Party and Grand Cape Mount County Senator among others) she had and continues to consider as her political foes.

Although Globe Afrique and GNN-Liberia’s detailed research report, “The Real Deceiver” analyzed and debunked the Global Witness’ report, The Deceiver, the Special Presidential Taskforce set up by the Sirleaf’s administration also dropped the charges against the accused person on grounds that it has no evidence and legal basis in facts and truths after wasting more than $2 million dollars from the Liberian treasury.

Besides, the Liberian government under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has itself debunked Globe Witness’s reports and other statements such as this one Liberian President Sirleaf and Her Regime Debunk Global Witness’s … on multiple occassions, but the former president was hell bent on persecuting other Liberian officials accused in the Global Witness’ report, The Deceiver, as a way of diminishing their political relevance in the country, an attempt which clearly failed.

So, with this latest revelation, Liberians will now get facts and truths regarding the Global Witness’ published report, ‘The Deceivers’.

A cross-section of Liberians shocked by these allegations, the ploy and waste of resources say this latest revelation by officials of the Ministry of Land, Mines, and Energy has clearly debunked and put to rest paid media reports that those Liberian officials accused in the Global Witness’ unsubstantiated and dubious report were enemy of the state, and should, therefore, be brought to book legally.

About the Author:

Joel Cholo Brooks, a researcher and the West Africa Bureau Chief of Globe Afrique, is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets, including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and the GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists.