Liberia: Sen. Sherman Denied from Using Robertsport City Hall

Senator Varney Gboto-Nambi Sherman speaks to flood victims in Robertsport, although his speech got him in trouble with them

— As sea erosion victims mock his ‘alleged attempts’ to intervene in their plight

Victims of the recent sea erosion in Robertsport wasted no time in bringing to public ridicule Senator Varney Sherman by not only booing at him but also making disparaging remarks about his alleged failed leadership role in the county. 

Senator Sherman, who is seeking reelection at the October 10 polls, traveled back to Grand Cape Mount County with a plan to stage an indoor campaign rally in the City Hall of Robertsport, but was denied entry by the sea erosion victims on the ground that the edifice is now their temporary home until they can find a more convenient and suitable place, which they would once again call.

Live on Spoon TV, Sherman seemed troubled by his people’s action but appeared calm, making an effort to prove to them that he has been working in their interest, His latest claim was that he sent a text message to Aaron Vincent, the County Superintendent, instructing him to “immediately withdraw money from the County Development Fund” for the provision of relief items to the people.

He went on further alleging that he also sent messages to Henry O. Williams, Executive Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), and the Chairman of the County Council for their respective quick interventions in order to ensure the victims were well taken care of.

“Listen to me carefully now,” Sherman told the people. “No one person has the money to take care of you. I want you to understand that. So what did I do immediately? I immediately sent a text to the National Disaster Relief Agency (NDRA) and told them about the sea erosion,” he claimed.

To prove his claims, Sherman picked up his two phones and scrolled through them for about 15 minutes, but could not display any of the messages he claimed he had sent. This angered the people, and they mocked him, even though he called the Superintendent to express his thoughts and suggest what should be done.

He went on looking for a new place to conduct his rally after all efforts to have his program held at the Centennial Memorial Hall failed.

The Grand Cape Mount Senator is under U.S. Treasury Department sanctions and is banned from traveling to the United States as his assets in that country have also been seized.

It can be recalled that on International Anti-Corruption Day, 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.  These actions are taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse.

The U.S. Treasury noted in its report that “In 2010, Harry Varney Gboto-Nambi 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 US$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.  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 judge who has ruled against him.  Sherman’s acts of bribery demonstrate a larger pattern of behavior to exercise influence over the judiciary and the Ministry of Justice.” 

It continued: “Sherman is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official responsible for or complicit in, or directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.”

Liberian Elections Law does not prevent U.S.-sanctioned individuals, from running for elective positions. Thus, Sherman is in the company of other sanctioned Liberians including Nathaniel McGill (former Minister of State of President George Weah), Prince Y. Johnson, a former warlord and Senator of Nimba and Bill Twehway (former managing director of the National Port Authority), who are all seeking election respectively in their counties of origin.

It’s only McGill who hails originally from Gbarpolu but is seeking election to the Senate in Margibi County even though there is no proof that he has resided in either county for a year as provided for by the New Elections Law backed by the 1986 Revised Constitution.

We don’t want Food; we want building materials

Unlike most times when flood victims and other disaster affected persons usually cry of hunger and beg for food, the flood victims of Kru Town, Robertsport said they do not want food for relief but building materials and land in order to build their new homes.

“The Superintendent said they have a check and it will have to get mature in order for them to get cash and get for us food but we have told them that we don’t need food. We need building materials and we need things, including mattresses to sleep on because the sea carried all of those things from us,” a lady only identified as Madam Kennedy said as she spoke on behalf of her fellow flood victims.

She said it was very unfortunate for Senator Sherman to spend almost 20 minutes looking for messages he claimed to have sent to the people he named but could not show the messages.

“He should know from now on that we are not here begging for food. We need materials, including building materials, mattresses and clothes to wear and sleep as we look forward to the county authority giving us land for us to build our homes and move on,” the sea erosion spokesperson said.