HomeForeignSierra Leone Ex-President Koroma Faces Trial Over Failed Coup, Offered Exile To...

Sierra Leone Ex-President Koroma Faces Trial Over Failed Coup, Offered Exile To Nigeria

Former Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma has been charged with treason and other offences in connection with an attempted coup.

Reports said the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu wanted to relocate Koroma to Nigeria.

Last November, gunmen broke into a military armoury and several prisons in Freetown, freeing almost 2,000 inmates.

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

West African leaders had tried to broker a deal for Mr Koroma to go into exile in Nigeria if the charges were dropped, the BBC understands.

The BBC has seen a letter saying Mr Koroma had agreed to the deal, brokered by the regional group, ECOWAS.

However, Sierra Leone Foreign Minster Timothy Kabba told the BBC the government did not support the proposal, which he described as a “unilateral proposition” by the President of the Ecowas Commission.

Some of Mr Koroma’s supporters cried in court as the charges were read out.

The former President’s lawyer, Joseph Kamara, told the BBC he was “shocked and in utter disbelief”, saying the charges set a “dangerous precedent”.”A dark cloud has shadowed the skies of our country, meaning that we are dragging a former head of state – democratically elected – on trumped-up charges under a political vendetta,” he said.

Mr Koroma has been under house arrest since being questioned over the coup.

He was President for 11 years until 2018, when current President Julius Maada Bio was elected.

On Tuesday, 12 other people were charged over the attempted coup, including one of Mr Koroma’s former bodyguards.

The former President’s daughter, Dankay Koroma, has previously been named on a list of wanted suspects by police. She has not commented.

The attempted coup came five months after a disputed election which saw President Bio narrowly re-elected for a second term.

The results were rejected by Mr Koroma’s All People’s Congress. International observers also criticised the elections, highlighting a lack of transparency in the count.

The former President has accepted the offer to be hosted in Nigeria, and subject to approval, arrangements will be made to fly him out of Freetown today.

The former Sierra Leonean President was on Tuesday charged with four counts of treason in connection to an attempted coup and other crimes

However, Sierra Leone Foreign Minster Timothy Kabba told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) the government did not support the proposal to relocate Koroma, which he described as a proposition by the ECOWAS Commission President.

In a statement yesterday, the ECOWAS Commission President, Omar Alieu Touray, indicated that the move to relocate Koroma followed an agreement reached by an ECOWAS Mission to Freetown on December 23.

Touray’s statement, titled: “Temporary relocation of former President to Abuja,” reads: “I am pleased to inform Your Excellency that the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has offered to host His Excellency Ernest Bal Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone, in Abuja.

“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, 4th January.”

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