The Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Varney G. Sherman, has requested the Liberian Senate for a vote of confidence for him to continue to serve in that capacity, while the matter of the Global Witness Report, “for which I’ve been indicted for the commission of crimes of economic sabotage, bribery, criminal solicitation, criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy” is still pending before the court.
In his letter dated September 3, 2016, the Grand Cape Mount County Senator informed his colleagues that his request has become necessary because “of the rumors and innuendos which are spreading in the corridors of the Liberian Senate, which must mandatorily be put to rest.”
Sen. Sherman, who is considered one of the leading corporate lawyers in the country, recalled that since his unopposed vote as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he has strived to serve to the best of his ability, including successfully making representations to the Supreme Court in defense of the Liberian Senate on at least two occasions.
Senator Sherman continued: “If at this time the Liberian 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 a Member and Chairman of the Judiciary Committee will be irreparably hampered. “
After four hours of debate on the only issue on the floor, the President Pro Tempore, Armah Jallah seized a motion from Grand Kru County Senator Albert Chie, who protested as a violation of the Senate Rules, an attempt by Senator Sherman to speak twice on the same issue; and reserved ruling until Thursday.
Meanwhile, during the debate many Senators expressed disappointment in Senator Sherman’s letter requesting for such a vote when the issue of his indictment has never been officially communicated to the Senate; while others expressed implicit confidence in his ability and competence to continue to head the Judiciary Committee.
Then came a revelation by Bong County Senator Henry Yallah and Maryland County Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown, informing the Plenary that they were among the 14 Senators who signed a resolution demanding that Senator Sherman recuses himself as Head of the Judiciary Committee.
However, others maintained that the decision as to whether or not the Senator needs to recuse himself cannot be made by Plenary, which has no case against him.
The resolution by the 14 Senators is yet to reach the Senate’s floor.
Sen. Sherman, is the fourth legislator so far to face the threat of recusal, following House Speaker J. Alex Tyler who was indicted along with Sherman as a result of the Global Witness allegations and asked to recuse for the same reason. Next was Senate Pro-Tempore Armah Z. Jallah, who raised the ire of his colleagues for secretly extending the Senate’s regular session without the endorsement of Plenary; and lately, Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, who led the successful parallel session that pressured Speaker Tyler to recuse himself as Presiding Officer. But the
Deputy Speaker could barely savor the victory when he himself was immediately asked by his colleagues in the parallel session to recuse himself from presiding over the Lower House due to allegations that he mismanaged US$1.2 million given by the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) in 2013 to the Legislature for a nationwide oil consultation tour, which he chaired.