Since the release by the Global Witness of top officials of the Liberian Government being involved in massive corruption and bribery, allegedly plundering into the resources of the Liberian people, many who read this Global Witness report were said they are taken aback, urging those linked to come out publicly and speedily exonerate themselves since many of those accused are seeking public office come 2017.
The Global Witness report released last week generated mixed reactions in Monrovia and other parts of the country with many wondering about such report which they said may have the force to bring Liberia to public ridicule amongst the comity of nations.
In its report, Global witness named high profile officials including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler, the Chairman of the ruling Unity Party and Senator of Grand Cape Mount County, Cllr. Varney Sherman, Fumba Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Director of the National Security Agency among others.
Global Witness, in a report alleged that it uncovered over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments by a UK mining firm, Sable Mining, through its Liberian lawyer, Cllr. Varney Sherman to past and current officials of government to have the company get hold of the concession for Mount Wologizi in Lofa County.
“We are very much disappointed that our country’s reputation is ruined. It becomes very frustrating if you have a President who came on the record of transparency and in fact vowed to make corruption a public enemy #1, and you come to realize that this President has become a monument of corruption. And I think that is very much appalling.
Take for example, we have come to reveal to the Liberian people like we normally do, when you read the Global Witness Report about the huge excess of money, over nine hundred thousand (US$900,000) plus, it was being detailed and people names were mentioned, and one may ask why are we not talking about those that were mentioned, we think the President should demonstrate leadership.
The President should not say she will launch an investigation we think that comment is cosmetic. The issue is a grave situation, we cannot have a country with criminal empire, the President should dismiss those individuals involved.”
“For me I believe in prima farcie—evidence and facts. Where are the evidences Global Witness have on our lawmakers? I strongly believe Global Witness has been paid to tarnish the reputation of those good men and women at the level of the legislature who have continued to contribute to the growth and development of our country.
Those are guys who continue to legislate policies that will create empowerment for the young people. And I can tell you for free; these are propaganda from politicians who want to put the sentiments of the people against these good men and women of the legislature. The report is bogus, undemocratic; it is devilish and has no iota of truth in it.
And I challenge Global Witness to go beyond their report and to bring prima facie evidence that substantiates their claim against our lawmakers. And I can tell you for free that gone are the days where institutions of international standards that have been paid by politicians to tarnish the reputation of good men and women of our country. We will roll our sleeves to our muscles to defend our country and our government officials because they are great men and women who mean well for our country.”
I want to believe in the Global Witness Report. I don’t want us to politicize this particular report. Global Witness is not a political institution. So for anyone to say that they want to drag the name of speaker Tyler Sumo Kupee, Varney Sherman in the mud because Speaker Tyler will be contesting is unfair.
Just look at the amount that has been apportioned to Richard Tolbert, speaker Tyler Sumo Kupee, Varney Sherman. Those monies were given them at the level of the National Legislature to pass laws that will not be in our interest so that Sable Mining can take over the Wologisi Mountain.
The report also highlighted how Varney Sherman was angry with the election of Henry Fahnbulleh and how Sable Mining compensated Henry Fahnbulleh with US$25,000 for him to resign and he did. That’s how you saw Wilmot Paye coming as Secretary General. So for this report, any serious government around the world will look into it and investigate it.
Liberians who spoke to our staff over the weekend lashed out at some of those accused, describing them as people who do not have Liberia at heart, and only care for themselves, a situation they said will plunk Liberia backward in its bid to rebuilt its shambled economy.
Many Liberians who spoke to the GNN-Liberia singled out Liberia’s well learned Liberian legal practitioners who they said many regard as a man of virtues, but noted to the contrary for now they are disappointed of his involvement in this situation.
“I don’t think it is fine for young man like Varney Sherman who supposed to be a dependable lawyer to get involved in such an act. A man who was seeking the presidency and wanted to take over our resources will do such thing to the Liberian people is worrisome. If a Senator as Varney Sherman who supposed to be making laws to protect our land will take bribe from people, it means that we are heading nowhere as a people.”
“I think that the act by Cllr. Varney Sherman is highly corrupt; and I also think concession agreement should be made in the open, that is, a bid should be put out for companies to apply and the company with the best option be taken, not to carryout bogus agreements.
Our leaders are very much insincere. This is the company that expressed interest in investing in our country and a lawmaker telling that company to dish up money to change our laws and bribe officials to give the company an easy ride. Cllr. Sherman need to confess his sins to the Liberian people, and the people of Cape Mount should see to it he shouldn’t go back in that Senate to represent them.”
One of those spoke to by journalists last week, Siaffa Kanneh said It highly unfortunate on the part of Cllr. Sherman and all those that allowed themselves to be used in that direction in order to give birth or right to corruption. Varney Sherman, as an individual and looking at his status in the Liberian politics, ranging from his attempt to take the Liberian presidency by contesting the 2005 election, and holding a respectable position in the ruling party, to be caught in an act that is against the developmental agenda of the state is tantamount to economy sabotage.
So, as a matter of fact, we think Cllr. Sherman is not in the interest of the Liberian people. Varney Sherman is from the belly of corruption by making that attempt, calling on a respectable institution like Sable Mining that came with option to offer bribe is also worrisome.
This is the reason over the past time all of the 68 concession agreements that were signed by the Legislature does not have a trickle-down- effect on the Liberian people. Varney Sherman brought in Sime Darby, but if you go to Cape Mount today, you will see that the company has made no impact on the lives of the people. We are calling all Liberians to join us in petitioning the Supreme Court to summon all those involved in this saga.
Even though President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appointed a committee to look into this matter, Liberians are still craving those being accused to come out publicly and tell the Liberian people what actually took place during all of these transactions mentioned by the Global Witness in its report.
For its part, Global Witness has also welcomed the decision by the Liberian Government to launch an investigation into this report released.
In its release Global Witness said it welcome the Liberian government’s announcement Thursday to investigate bribes and payments made by the UK mining company Sable and its lawyer Varney Sherman. In recent years, the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has made efforts to hold accountable those who break Liberia’s natural resource laws, including prosecuting those involved in illegal logging and oil deals. We are hopeful that this investigation into the mining scandal will be similarly thorough, demonstrating Liberia’s commitment to fighting corruption.
In its 12 May statement, the Liberian government also announced that it had requested cooperation and assistance from the British government during the investigation into the UK-based Sable. Global Witness encourages this collaboration. If it is found by the Liberian and British governments that those involved in this mining scandal did break the law, the authorities of both countries should prosecute and make good on their pledges to end impunity.
Global Witness looks forward to cooperating with the Liberian and British authorities to ensure the government’s investigation is a success. The release concluded.