Ex-Sierra Leone President Koroma Granted Asylum By Nigeria

Adoga Stephen By Adoga Stephen - Editor-In-Chief
4 Min Read

Former Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, who is facing treason charges from his successor, Julius Maada Bio, has been granted temporary sanctuary in Abuja by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

A letter dated January 2, 2024, with reference number ECW/PC/DC/2024-001/oat, written by Omar Alieu Touray and addressed to Sierra Leone’s President Bio, reveals that the former President has accepted to be entertained in Nigeria.

Ernest Bai Koroma, the former President of Sierra Leone, was charged on Tuesday with four charges of treason connected to an attempted coup and other offences.

Koroma was President for 11 years until his successor, Julius Maada Bio, was elected in 2018.

The letter read: “I refer to the mission to Freetown on December 23 of the high-level ECOWAS delegation led by His Excellency, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, and His Excellency, Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal.

“I am pleased to inform Your Excellency that, as part of the agreement reached during the mission, the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has offered to host His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone, in Abuja on a temporary basis. The former President has accepted the offer to be hosted in Nigeria.

“Subject to your approval, arrangements will be made to fly former President Koroma out of Freetown on Thursday, January 4, 2024. He will be accompanied by his office manager and personal assistant.

“In addition to seeking Your Excellency’s approval for the departure from Sierra Leone of the former president on or around the date indicated above, I would like to seek your confirmation that once President Koroma leaves Sierra Leone, the following arrangements (as agreed during the mission) will be put in place.”

According to Touray, the proposed arrangements were as follows: the government of Sierra Leone would stop all legal and administrative actions against Koroma; Koroma would continue to receive his benefits as a former President; the government of Sierra Leone would ensure the security of his residences in different locations within the country; and there is consideration by the government of Sierra Leone to reimburse the former President for medical and travel expenses incurred.

However, Sierra Leone’s Foreign Minister, Timothy Kabba, informed the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that the government did not support the idea of relocating Koroma, describing it as a suggestion from the ECOWAS Commission President.

Attempts were made by West African leaders to arrange for Koroma to go into exile in Nigeria on the condition that he drop the charges.

According to the BBC, Koroma agreed to this deal in a letter.

In November 2023, there was turmoil in Freetown when armed individuals raided a military arsenal and multiple prisons, leading to the release of around 2,000 inmates. As a result, Koroma was charged with four counts of treason for his alleged involvement in the attempted coup.

He is currently under house arrest after being questioned about the coup. Despite the accusations, Koroma has consistently denied any involvement in the attack, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 20 people.

The attempted coup took place five months after a controversial election in which President Bio narrowly won re-election for a second term.

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By Adoga Stephen Editor-In-Chief
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Stephen studied Mass Communication at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu (now Lagos State University of Science and Technology), where he acquired requisite training for the practice of journalism. He loves the media, and his interest mostly lies in print medium, where his creative writing skill makes him a perfect fit.