Officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) and Emergency Response Unit (ERU) yesterday besieged the residence of the ruling Unity Party’s (UP) chairman and senator of Grand Cape Mount County, Cllr. Varney Sherman, in the Presidential Task Force’s effort to ensure his appearance to answer to allegations of bribery made against him and several other public officials by Global Witness.
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) investigators went to Sherman’s residence with search and seizure warrants from the Ministry of Justice to search his home as well as his office, the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm.
Countering the presence of the officers and LACC investigators, UP partisans converged at the residence, chanting slogans in an attempt to prevent Senator Sherman from being arrested and publicly disgraced.
The UP partisans said there are many other cases of corruption involving officials that the government should go after and not Sherman alone.
LNP spokesman, Sam Collins, informed partisans that the police were there to provide support to the ongoing Task Force investigation.
Among UP partisans present at Sherman’s residence yesterday were Wilmot Paye, Secretary General; Amos Tweh, Youth Chair; James Davies, a strong UP partisan and close confidant of the President; and H. Prince Kamara, UP Coordinator in Grand Cape Mount County.
“We have people who stole from government and still remain in top positions today. We have the John F. Kennedy saga that involves millions of dollars that the President has failed to speak about,” the UP partisans shouted.
According to them, there are more allegations of criminal cases involving the President’s son while serving at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
The partisans said the case died without Liberians getting a better understanding on the status of the money that vanished from NOCAL.
“This government has a lot of corruption cases, such as the disappearance of millions at NOCAL and Maritime to pursue, but it is not doing it. Why only this Global Witness report,” asked Darlington Williams, a UP partisan.
The partisans were heard expressing frustration over how the party was being treated.
“What is at hand now is a legal issue; so let the chairman, who represents the image of the party, submit himself to the legal process so that he can vindicate himself. This will bring some level of sanity to the party,” partisan Fofana Bangallie said.
He indicated that Sherman’s alleged action is a disgrace not just to the party, but the entire country, and it creates a dark cloud over the party’s chances in 2017.
The partisans accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of masterminding the day’s event in an effort to get at the party chairman, as it happened after his 2014 senatorial election.
It can be recalled that Cllr. Sherman’s victory in the senatorial election was challenged, resulting in a delay of his certification as senator of Grand Cape Mount County.
Cllr. Sherman had earlier refused to submit to the Special Presidential Task Force set up to probe the Global Witness Bribery Report.
His house could not be searched in line with instructions in the warrant because partisans of the Unity Party prevented it from happening.
Speaking at a press conference late yesterday afternoon, the head of the Special Presidential Task Force, Cllr. Fonati Koffa, said his team, in collaboration with LACC, is working within the confines of the law.
Cllr. Koffa, who was also recently appointed by the President as Minister of State Without Portfolio, said the arrest and search warrants received from the Ministry of Justice are intended to bring in those implicated in the Global Witness Report.
“We received two search warrants which we used today,” he said, “at the home of Cllr. Varney Sherman and at his law firm’s offices.”
“Without fear or favor, we will arraign all accused persons who are not cooperating with our investigation panel and give them the opportunities to exonerate themselves.”
Cllr. Koffa warned citizens against interfering with the investigation and vowed to have anyone interrupting the process bear the full weight of the law.
The warning came as a result of reports of Unity Party partisans preventing LACC investigators and police from entering Sherman’s residence.
“Make no mistake to interfere with the ongoing investigation as we will not relent to use law enforcement to deal with anyone who obstructs the process,” warned Koffa.
For his part, the Chairman of LACC, Cllr. James Verdier, said LACC has not been sidelined in the investigation of the Global Witness Report, as has been speculated.
The LACC Chairman said the Presidential Task Force and the Ministry of Justice are collaborating in the process to investigate those implicated in the Global Witness Report, clarifying that no one should question the Executive Power of the President to appoint a Task Force to investigate any case.
“LACC is working along with the Task Force and the Ministry of Justice in the investigation of the Global Witness Report, but is not in conflict with them as it has been speculated,” Cllr. Verdier maintained.
The LACC boss meanwhile said the interest in the Global Witness saga is due to the fact that it is at the heart of government’s struggle to tackle corruption.
Cllr. Vardier clarified that the objective of the Commission is not a witch hunt.
It may be recalled that Cllr. Varney Sherman and House Speaker Alex Tyler opted not to appear before the Task Force, saying it lacks the judicial authority to investigate them.