The Fall of Varney Sherman

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

Senator H. Varney G. Sherman, Chairman of the ruling Unity Party has been an influential party insider, a heavyweight in the Liberian political sphere, a top-notched lawyer for nearly his entire adult life and a presidential confidant.

Sherman’s role as a presidential confidant won him the coveted slot in 2013 to be the national orator during the nation’s 166th Independence Day ceremonies held in Monrovia.

So cunning and effective in his dealings with all sides of the political spectrum including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whom he often showered with endless adulations, Varney Sherman at times seems to do no wrong.

At the height of this hypocrisy, the pretentious Sherman who was rumored to be running for President in 2017, showed a swaggering display of boldness, arrogance and false patriotism during this heinous journey, even as he laughs his way to the bank on the backs of the Liberian people.

This way of life for Varney Sherman – the cunning and endless display of fake statesmanship, showed his extraordinary savvy and the crooked way he has survived in Liberia’s highly corrupt and dangerous political climate.

It didn’t have to take a Global Witness report and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to indict and carryout a search warrant into the home of one of the most powerful political and legal figures in the country.

Also, it didn’t have to take the Global Witness report to indict Speaker Alex Tyler, former Investment Commission Chairman Richard Tolbert, former Minister of State Morris Saytumah, former Chairman of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission Willie Belleh, businessman Christopher Ononuga, and ECB Jones, former Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy.

That’s because we already know how endemic public corruption is in the Sirleaf administration, and we’ve also heard the countless whispers about how deep some of the individuals who have just been publicly shamed are engaged in corruption in the country.

So what’s new?

The May 11, 2016 Global Witness report alleges that these former and current Liberian government officials received bribe of over $950,000 from U.K-based Sable Mining Company, to change the mining laws of Liberia to favor Sable Mining to invest in Mt. Wologizi in Lofa County.

This is certainly the first of its kind, and as the shaming of Varney and company takes the national spotlight, can we say for sure that this is not only happening for the news headlines and our optical consumption?

There is a reason for such skepticism because there is no precedent in Liberia that shows that powerful political figures in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s nearly 12-year old government has ever been prosecuted and their stolen funds and properties confiscated and returned to the Ministry of Finance.


As expected, a defiant Sherman vowed not to submit to the Special Task Force investigating him.

Instead, the lawyer in Sherman turned his attention to the shady life of Fonati Koffa, the Minister of Justice whom he thinks went after him because he did not support his presidential nomination to his current post.

Well, Senator H. Varney G. Sherman can do all the self-lawyering he can to deflect the alleged corruption charges that hovers over his already tainted image.

As the Liberian people watch this drama unfold, they are eagerly waiting to see what is next because the imperial President of Liberia, not the legal system and the law of the land, determines the fate of the accused in most high-profile cases.

Other than shaming Varney Sherman publicly with such show of power and might from the nation’s security forces, can he be indicted and prosecuted in Liberia on Madame Sirleaf’s watch?

That remains to be seen.

Remember now that H. Varney G. Sherman is not only a political and legal institution in his own right in Liberia, he’s also a sitting senator and chairman of President Sirleaf’s Unity Party, and a staunch supporter of the president’s election and re-election efforts in 2005 and 2011.

Also, Madame Sirleaf is known for her extreme loyalty to her friends, cronies and allies, and as the past has shown over and over, this president has never thrown her people under the bus under no circumstances.

As the Liberian people will say, “we will see.”

However, for Speaker Alex Tyler, he should have been investigated, put on trial and jailed with the prison keys thrown in the nearby Atlantic Ocean (if he’s ever found guilty) for the mind-blowing and horrific public corruption that defines him.

Whoever elected this character, Alex Tyler, to the House of Representatives, and made him Speaker of the House ought to punch his or herself in the stomach for showing such stupidity and bad judgment on such monumental level.

Like the clown class in the House of Representatives and Senate who are making life difficult for the Liberian people every day by engaging in corruption, Alex Tyler has never shown to have a grasp of the legislative process.

Alex Tyler is not in the House of Representatives to make life better for the Liberian people, but to get rich quick.

However, this is such an incredible fall for such an influential figure. Can Varney and his friends ever be put on trial, prosecuted and put in jail, and their stolen properties confiscated?

After Varney, who’s next? We want to know!

TW Sungbeh is editor @ www.liberiandialogue.org
Photograph: Olivier Laban-Mattei/AFP/Getty Images

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