New Thinking – With Joe Bartuah

Joe Bartuah

Joe Bartuah

Sherman and the Maggots of Rottenness

Liberian officialdom seems to, once again, be at a point of reckoning, because latest report seeping through the offices of The News Pinnacle indicates that the Legislature will imminently issue a joint resolution pertinent to the massive corruption allegations against some leading Government officials in that West African country. Our source in Monrovia said he didn’t know the nature of the resolution, whether the Legislature will call for a thorough, impartial investigation into those bribery allegations, which have further sunk the nation’s integrity, or the lawmakers will characteristically sweep grave allegations them under the proverbial carpet.

At the center of the kickback allegations are Senator Varney Sherman of Cape Mount County, the flamboyant corporate lawyer well-known for his pomposity and self-indulgent elitism and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler among others. As for Sherman, it was he who, about 18 years ago, sanctimoniously proclaimed the rottenness of the Liberian judiciary during a speech at the Unity Conference Center on the outskirts of Monrovia.

For a man who has made millions of dollars in his law practice over the years, representing opulent clients at varied judicial chambers, by declaring the judiciary rotten Sherman was, in effect, declaring that all along he has been intensely feeding off the carcass of the Liberian judiciary.

In 2005, Sherman told the Liberian people that he, too, was a presidential material and urged the electorate to vote him into office. But as it later turned out, Liberian voters largely rejected the pompous lawyer at the polls. He later forged an alliance with President Sirleaf’s Unity Party and became party chairman.

For a man who was ostentatiously concerned about the rottenness of the judiciary almost two decades ago, one would have thought that upon assuming the chairmanship of the ruling party, the erudite jurist would carve out some brilliant blueprints aimed at radically reforming the judiciary to engender transparency in Liberia’s judicial practices, but Sherman is yet to effectively utilize such influential position to initiate a long-awaited reform process Liberians from all walks of life have been yearning for. As one of the prime beneficiaries of the rottenness of the Liberian judicial system, it is very difficult to say whether Sherman has any inclination to lead the much needed reform at the judiciary in particular and government in general.

In addition to his party chairmanship, Sherman, in 2014 became senator of Grand Cape Mount County. However, since becoming senator some two years ago, the Liberian people are still waiting to see a landmark reform package introduced in the form of a bill by Senator Sherman, aimed at revamping the Liberian judiciary.

It is against this backdrop that the Justice Ministry in Monrovia, in collaboration with a special presidential committee, attempted serving an arrest warrant on the Grand Cape Mount Senator yesterday in Monrovia. However, the writ from the Monrovia City Court was apparently not served as some so-called “partisans” of the Unity Party had barricaded themselves around the residence of the multi-millionaire lawyer. Sherman is being sought because his private law firm apparently served as the conduit for dishing out bribes and other emoluments to leading government officials.

Not surprisingly, Sherman is claiming that “he and his law firm are prohibited by law and the Liberian constitution from divulging to anyone what they die for Sable Mining…”, FrontPageAfricaonline quotes the Cape Mount senator as saying. However, the well-learned lawyer failed to cite the specifics of the law, neither did he state the article and section of the 1986 constitution that protect any form of criminality, whether by a lawyer or otherwise.

Article 90(b) of the 1986 constitution states, “No person, whether elected or appointed to any public office, shall demand and receive any other perquisites, emoluments or benefits, directly or indirectly, on account of any duty required by Government.”

This is not the first time that Sherman is being accused of involvement in shady practices. A few years ago, a documentary filmed by a Dutch journalist who had posed as a businessman, revealed that Sherman had been his point man in bribing his way through the Liberian bureaucracy to have his aim accomplished. At the time Sherman admitted that he had received $30,000 from the Dutch journalist; the ruling party chairman then used his influence to secure a consul-general position, just to prove his point about the prevalence of endemic corruption in the country. When the story surfaced, Sherman characteristically dismissed the scandal at the time and in the end, nothing came out of it.

Sherman who had in the past, lamented the rottenness of the Liberian judiciary, should be leading the charge to salvage the very judiciary. When things get rotten, people of goodwill make sincere efforts to mitigate the rottenness so as to curb the obnoxious stench for the good of the society, rather than deliberately maneuvering to enhance the abrasive odor of a “rotten” system.

Since Sherman already knows that the system of interpreting and enforcing the law in Liberia is “rotten”, he should use his influential positions to help rid the system of those disease-laden maggots, instead of collaborating with others to further exacerbate the stench of the system. If Sherman and his cohorts remain self-centered and selfishly neglect to help rid the system of those pervasive maggots, he and others are most likely to be overwhelmed by the ferocity of those carcass-consuming creatures to the extent that no amount of mercenary thuggery will permanently prevent the grandiose culture of justice.

Filed in: New Thinking

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