Turning Over Old Leaf? Sherman Affiliates Take Over Prosecution

MONROVIA WAS TENSE A few weeks ago when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf named a Special Presidential Task Force to probe a recent report released by Global Witness in which several past and current officials of government allegedly received and distributed over US$900,000 to circumvent the Public Procurement and Concession Law in favor of British Mining Company Sable.

A NEW MINISTER IN GOVERNMENT was given the task as his first major assignment in government and the opposition political party Chairman, Cllr. Fonati Koffa, from a party that has been speaking against issues of corruption took the task seriously with the Task Force quickly pushing to bring the accused individuals to answer for their alleged roles in the shady payment scheme.

THE TASK FORCE MOVED with fast speed inviting the accused to appear and explain their roles in the deal much to the liking of many Liberians who have been wishing for the government to fight corruption by bringing those accused of corruption to court.

WHEN ONE OF THE ACCUSED, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. Varney Sherman refused to appear before the Task Force for legal reasons, the Task Force pushed for a writ of arrest and search warrant to look out for evidences to prosecute Cllr. Sherman and others.

ALTHOUGH THE SUPREME COURT is yet to rule on an exception to a decision by Judge Boimah Kontoe in favor of the state granting a writ of subpoena against several commercial banks but the decision by the Judge is seen as good start for the prosecution.

LIBERIANS HAVE BEEN HOPING that the Special Presidential Task Force with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Ministry of Justice all as members will be different from the prosecution of the old which handles cases with snail-paced, resulting in the State loosing many of these cases while some are later dropped due to lack of sufficient evidence to proceed with prosecution.

WHATEVER MIGHT HAVE GONE on behind the scene, the Task Force last Thursday officially turned over the legal proceedings in the case to the Ministry of Justice. Right at that moment the Task Force head, Cllr. Koffa announced the decision to turn over to the Ministry of Justice, skepticisms about the case increased with members of the Liberian public expressing that the case is just another waste of time and resources.

THE CONCERNS COME IN the wake of the long standing friendly ties between current Justice Minister, Cllr. Frederick Cherue and Cllr. Sherman both of whom have been long time professional colleagues.

A LAWYER PROSECUTING ANOTHER lawyer especially in Liberia where the court system has persistently come under local and international criticisms for being corrupt, judges taking bribes to hand favorable ruling to a party with more money and other negative vices, Cllr. Sherman is likely to walk away a free man.

CLLR. SHERMAN HAS ALREADY made known his happiness for going to court when he told supporters that he is sure of victory, boasting that he was born in the court and became successful because of the court, therefore he cannot be afraid of the court.

TO MAKE MATTER GOOD FOR CLLR. Sherman his fate now lies in the hands of his longtime friend, Justice Minister Cherue and his former employee Solicitor General Betty L. Blamoh. True to the words of Minister Cherue, accusations against individuals have to be proven but in this case it is the Justice Minister that should be providing proof against his friend Cllr. Sherman.

IT NOW SEEMS ALL HOPE IN the case is lost as Minister Cherue and SG Blamoh, the two key state prosecutors who should be gathering and producing the cogent pieces of evidence against Cllr. Sherman and others already have their independence impaired by their respective affiliations with Cllr. Sherman.

IN EVERY PROFESSION, IMPAIRMENT of independence comes in many forms including past affiliations and or any connection with those at the center of an investigation, audit or prosecution. In this case, professionals are under obligation to disclose such affiliations and reject taking over such assignment.

MINISTER CHERUE AND SG BLAMOH should now move fast enough to stay away from the trial and not play with the trial to extend of tampering with evidence to favor their friend and former boss.

TURNING OVER THE PROSECUTION of Cllr. Sherman and others to Minister Cherue and SG Blamoh is like tuning over the entire process to an old leaf that does not have the energy and willingness to push further.

THIS IS JUST ANOTHER EMPTY noise and an attempt to fight corruption but has already failed due to the connection of Minister Cherue and SG Blamoh to the main man in the alleged scandal, Cllr. Sherman.

Sherman Affiliates
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