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Sierra Leone ex-president, Koroma, flees on exile to Nigeria



Ex-president of Sierra Leone, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma

Former president of Sierra Leone, Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma, accused of treason by the government of his country has fled on exile to Nigeria.

DDM learnt that Mr. Koroma arrived Nigeria on Friday, January 1, although the Sierra Leone government is presenting his departure as “a medical trip.”

Koroma is the former president of Sierra Leone, who served from 2007 to 2018 and is currently facing charges of treason and other offences in connection with an attempted coup in 2023.

He has denied any involvement in the attack, which killed about 20 people.

He was granted permission by the High Court to travel to Nigeria for medical treatment on January 17, 2024, but there is speculation that he may not return to face trial.

Some sources suggest that a deal has been brokered by the regional bloc Ecowas to allow him to go into exile.

The journey on a Nigerian Airforce flight was originally planned for the 4th of January.

However, the government of President Julius Maada Bio went back on its earlier agreement with ECOWAS.

DDM source, Mr. Paul Ejime, an authority on ECOWAS affairs, revealed that “the hawks in President Bio’s ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) questioned the plan under the erroneous impression that ECOWAS was trying to prevent Koroma from facing justice in his country”.

The political tension in Sierra Leone, following the disputed June 2023 presidential election, had heightened with an alleged coup attempt.

There was a reported attempted coup in Sierra Leone on Sunday, November 26, 2023.

A group of militants attacked a military armoury and two prisons in Freetown, the capital city, releasing hundreds of inmates.

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The government said it repelled the attack and arrested some of the suspects.

The motive behind the coup is unclear, but some analysts suggest it may be related to political and economic grievances.

The coup attempt has been condemned by the international community and the regional bloc ECOWAS.

The Sierra Leonean government blamed officials of the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC), including former President Koroma.

Koroma had denied any involvement in the alleged botched coup, but he was placed under house arrest and after days of interrogation by state security agencies, he was taken to court on January 3rd and charged with treason.

Meanwhile, during the ECOWAS end-of-year summit in December 2023, President Bio had requested the regional economic bloc to send a mediation mission to Sierra Leone.

According to Mr. Ejime, the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and Nigerian President Bola Tinubu dispatched to Freetown, a high-level delegation.

The delegation was made up of the presidents of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo and Macky Sall of Senegal, and accompanied by the ECOWAS Commission President, Oumar Alieu Touray, and Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security.

Ejime cited sources privy to meetings held in Freetown as saying that it was President Bio who insisted that for peace to reign in Sierra Leone, former President Koroma must leave the country, just like he (Bio) was granted political asylum by the United States after handing over power to now-late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1996.

Koroma, however, reportedly rejected the Bio suggestion but, following persuasion by the ECOWAS delegation, the three parties (Koroma, ECOWAS, and Bio) eventually agreed to the exile plan with Nigeria as Koroma’s host country.

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This was on the condition that the Sierra Leone government should drop all legal and administrative charges against Koroma, who should also retain his entitlements as former head of state.

The government said 15 of Koroma’s serving and former bodyguards are implicated in the alleged coup attempt, while the former president insists on his innocence.

About Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa with a population of about 8.9 million people and a tropical climate.

Its capital and largest city is Freetown, which is located on a peninsula that forms one of the world’s largest natural harbours.

It is known for its rich mineral resources, especially diamonds, gold, and bauxite. It is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the African Union.

Sierra Leone has a history of colonialism, slavery, and civil war. It was founded by the British in the 19th century as a home for freed slaves from the Americas and Europe.

It gained its independence in 1961, but faced political instability, coups, and corruption.

From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone suffered a brutal civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more.

The war was fueled by the illicit trade of diamonds and involved rebel groups, government forces, and foreign intervention.

The war ended with a peace agreement and the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Since then, Sierra Leone has made progress in rebuilding its infrastructure, economy, and democracy.

Sierra Leone is a diverse and multicultural country, with many ethnic groups and languages.

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The most widely spoken language is Krio, a creole language derived from English and African languages.

The official language is English, and the recognized national languages are Mende, Temne, Limba, and Kono.

Majority of the population is Muslim, with a significant Christian minority.

Sierra Leoneans are known for their hospitality, resilience, and artistic expression.

Some of the cultural aspects of Sierra Leone include music, dance, cuisine, literature, and sports.

Read more.

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