A dream for a third successive presidential victory for the ruling Unity Party seems to be an illusion as it appears from all indications that the party no longer has no attraction to appease voters come 2017 as corruption scandals continue to mar the party’s future.
The latest Global Witness report alleging bribes, which has rocked the government and the general public, seems to be the final nail to the party’s coffin, many have observed.
The report implicated top government officials, including the UP Chairman, Cllr. Varney Sherman – who at the time was not in an active government post – of receiving close to a million dollars in bribes. This scandal is not just tarnishing the image of Liberia to the outside world but also tearing the ruling Unity Party into pieces as partisans are now split between the party chairman, Cllr. Sherman, and its standard bearer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Cllr. Sherman is at the center of the Global Witness corruption saga, being the lawyer who was retained by the British Sable Mining company and allegedly facilitated over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments to top government officials.
President Sirleaf immediately set up a task force headed by Minister of State without Portfolio, Cllr. Fonati Koffa, to investigate all involved in the report. However, a defiant Cllr. Sherman indicated that he and his law firm (Sherman & Sherman) will not submit to any GOL investigation.
The reason, he said, is because he and his law firm, Sherman & Sherman, “are prohibited by the law and the Liberian Constitution from divulging to anyone what we did for Sable Mining or did not do for Sable Mining when we served as their lawyers in Liberia in 2010.”
Angry partisans gathered at their chairman’s residence early Monday morning when they heard news of armed LNP officers sent to Sherman’s Congo Town residence. According to his supporters, they were there to ensure that their top brass received the maximum support from the partisans.
They indicated that they were also there to resist his arrest; though Court Sheriff and investigators from the LACC had indicated that they were not there to arrest him, but to effect a search warrant issued by the court.
“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?” Darlington Williams, who said he is a UP partisan, said.
The Secretary General of the UP, Wilmot Paye, who arrived early on the scene, spoke against the manner in which the government is handling the situation.
Light was shed on the massive divisions in the party by way of profanities while expressing their frustrations with the President over how she is handling the affairs of the party and bringing its top officials into public disrepute.
“The government sent armed men at 4:30 a.m. yesterday with no search warrants from the court to search the home of the chairman.
“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,” a UP partisan said.
He indicated that as it appears now, Sherman’s action is a disgrace to not just the party, but the entire country, and it dampens the chances of the party come 2017.
UP partisans are accusing the President of masterminding the entire situation in an effort to get at the party chairman, as it was done after his 2014 senatorial victory when his certification was delayed.