AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - Failed coup: After being indicted, former President Koroma receives political asylum in Nigeria

Thursday, 4 January 2024 coup  

Freetown (Agenzia Fides) - The former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, was indicted yesterday, January 3, on four counts, including treason, in connection with the failed coup of November 26 (see Fides, 28/11/2023).
Authorities had claimed from the start that the failed coup was led primarily by Koroma's bodyguards. The former president is expected in Nigeria today, January 4, to seek political asylum after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission reached an agreement with authorities in Freetown. The announcement of Koroma's arrival in Nigeria was made in a statement by Sierra Leone's Minister of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah. Koroma is accused of treason, failing to warn the authorities about the coup attempt and harboring wanted people in two cases. In a letter to the current President of Sierra Leone, Julius Bio, ECOWAS President Omar Alieu Touray called for the temporary relocation of Koroma to Abuja, Nigeria. The letter, dated January 2, 2024, was also sent to Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo and Senegalese President Macky Sall. ECOWAS noted the need to ensure the safety and well-being of Koroma during the ongoing legal proceedings. In the letter, the organization reiterates its commitment to promoting peace, stability and the rule of law in West Africa. The charges against Koroma are likely to further escalate tensions in Sierra Leone following the attempted coup and disputed elections in which President Julius Maada Bio was re-elected for a second term in June 2023. Tensions are rising in the country, which is still recovering from the civil war (1991-2002) in which more than 50,000 people were killed. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/1/2024)