Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa has challenged the Grand Cape Mount Senator, Cllr. Varney Sherman to show any document to substantiate his US$4.5 million claims because to the best of his knowledge, an amount around US$1.1M was given the Task Force by the Liberian government for the prosecution of the case.
The Societal Reform Initiative of Liberia (SoRI) said it would be surprising if Cllr. Varney Sherman is not charged for perjury should he fail to prove that the Presidential Task Force set up by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to investigate the infamous Sable Mining corruption case received US$4.5 million of taxpayers’ money.
Defendant Sherman, in his testimony at the Criminal Court ‘C’ recently alleged that the former head of the Task Force, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, who is now representative of Grand Kru County, received US$4.5M from the Liberian government to prosecute him (Sherman), former Speaker J. Alex Tyler and others who were accused by Global Witness of bribery.
In 2016 Global Witness released a report of bribery of over US$950.00(Nine hundred and fifty thousand United States dollars) and other suspicious payments by UK mining firm Sable Mining and its Liberian lawyer, Varney Sherman.
According to Global Witness, the money was paid to Cllr. Sherman to influence lawmakers and other government officials to change the procurement laws of Liberia and allow Sable Mining Company to acquire Wologizi, the largest mountain in the country, an allegation the defendants have since denied.
At a press conference Thursday, July 4, in response to Sherman’s allegation, the former head of the Special Presidential Task Force, Cllr. Fonati Koffa dismissed the US$4.5 million dollars claim challenging Cllr. Varney Sherman to produce any document where he Fonati Koffa received US$4.5m to prosecute the case.
Cllr. Koffa challenged the Grand Cape Mount Senator to show any document to substantiate his US$4.5 million claims because to the best of his knowledge, an amount around US$1.1M was given the Task Force by the Liberian government for the prosecution of the case.
He termed Cllr Sherman’s testimonies as false, innuendo, perjuries and defamatory.
In a release issued a day after Cllr. Koffa’s press conference, the Societal Reform Initiative of Liberia called on state prosecutors to demand that Cllr. Sherman be made to prove his allegation which the group described as very serious and borders on perjury since his testimony was under oath before a competent court of jurisdiction.
The civil society group said it believes that Cllr. Sherman, as a lawyer, understands the fact that everything a witness says before court under oath must be the truth and nothing but the truth because anything to the contrary amounts to perjury which is punishable under the law.
The group urged Cllr. Sherman to go beyond mere assertion and provide the evidence of his US$4.5 million dollar claim because the poor masses of the Liberian people are interested in knowing how the government could have spent such amount without any disclosure about three years now.
SoRI said the state and the court must insist that Cllr. Sherman provides proof to his allegation because it hinges on the characters and judgments of the past regime and all members of the Presidential Task Force.
The civil society group maintained that probing the US$4.5 million dollar allegation is important because the government and the Task Force did not make any such disclosure and the period recalled was one and half years after the devastating Ebola crisis when the economy was dealt a serious blow thus undercutting development projects and negatively impacting revenue.
Meanwhile, the Societal Reform Initiative is urging Cllr. Sherman to refrain from making wild allegations and address himself to pieces of evidence produced by the state to prove that he committed the crime as charged.
The group added that no amount of dramatization and throwing of accusations can undo what the prosecution has presented as evidence and as such, Cllr. Sherman should focus on putting up a legal defense by perforating the evidence to exonerate himself.