Ahead of Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman’s legal battle to exonerate himself from the Global Witness bribery scandal that implicated him and several former legislators and government officials, some citizens of his county are holding consultations to raise money to assist him during the trial. However, Lofa County District#1 Rep. Eugene Fallah Kparkar recently expressed dismay about the ‘culture of protectionism’, which he considers a vice to Liberian society.
Rep. Eugene Fallah Kparkar, was addressing a one-day forum under the theme, “Engaging Policy Makers towards Sustainable Management of Natural Resource in Liberia,” when he told his audience, “the problem in our society, in my own opinion, that is eating its fabric is the culture of protectionism.” Rice and Rights Foundation organized the forum, held on Friday, June 3, aimed at building relationships between NGOs in the natural resources sector.
On Saturday, June 4, a group of Cape Mountainians in a press release last Saturday said, “Elders of five districts in the county are organizing a mass solidarity and fund raising program in Robertsport, the county’s capital, to help contribute to the legal defense of Senator Sherman, accused of criminal offense by the government.”
While Rep. Kparkar’s remarks and the Cape Mountainians’ press release appeared to be mutually exclusive (not directed at one another, as far as we can tell), the striking coincidence of their occurrence within the same weekend and on the matter of transparency in Liberia’s extractive industries, could not be ignored.
Rep. Kparkar, who chairs the Committee on Concession and Investment at the Lower House, said, “More often we try to protect our colleagues, even if they were to go wrong, that is the inherent problem that is affecting the country. If your son, nephew or best friend transgresses against the norms of society,” he added, “we should allow that person to account for the act so as to set as an example to others.”
According to him, if someone is being held for corruption, let that person face the full weight of the law instead of rallying support for the accused, “a situation that has been our major problems, which is undermining our fight against corruption.”
The Cape Mountainians’ press release, signed by one Musa C. K. Sheriff and speaking on behalf of elders of the county, extended the campaign to their kin folk located elsewhere, calling on “all the people from Cape Mount, irrespective of their locations, to come to Robertsport and contribute to the fund drive.”
The release claimed that the Global Witness alleged corruption against Senator Sherman has cast doubt not only on his reputation as an eminent son of the county, but also on the entire people of Grand Cape Mount County that he represents at the National Legislature.
“We must stand with the Senator in the face of this unwarranted attack on his hard earned reputation and say to the accusers that we have explicit confidence in the integrity of our son that we elected to serve as our Senator,” the release said.
The document continues, “This is not about Varney Sherman, it is about Grand Cape Mount County…We must galvanize adequate support for our legal defense as the matter is now pending in court.”
The release called on the citizens to “remain resolute as a people as we follow the trial and proceedings in this case with keen interest.”
“We therefore called on all well-meaning Liberians to come and identify with the County in Robertsport for this special homecoming on June 25 beginning at 10:00 a.m.”