Nigeria grants asylum to former Sierra Leone president Koroma after role in failed coup attempt

Nigeria grants asylum to former Sierra Leone president Koroma after role in failed coup attempt

Following the failed coup d'état attempt in Sierra Leone in November 2023, the Federal Government granted the former president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, who is being accused of treason by his successor, Julius Maada Bio, temporary asylum in Abuja .

A letter with reference number ECW/PC/DC/2024-001/oat, dated January 2, 2024, which was signed by Omar Alieu Touray and addressed to President Bio of Sierra Leone, said the former president accepted the offer to be hosted in Nigeria.

The letter said: “I refer to the mission to Freetown on 23 December of the ECOWAS high-level 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 accepted the offer to stay in Nigeria.

“Subject to your approval, arrangements will be made to take 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 requesting Your Excellency's approval for the departure of the former President of Sierra Leone on or about the date indicated above, I would like to request your confirmation that once President Koroma leaves Sierra Leone, the following arrangements ( as agreed during the mission) will be implemented.”

The agreements, according to Touray, consisted of the Sierra Leone government discontinuing all legal and administrative proceedings against Koroma; the Sierra Leone government would also continue to disburse Koroma his benefits as former president; the government of Sierra Leone would guarantee their residences in the various locations in Sierra Leone; and that the government of Sierra Leone will consider reimbursing medical and travel expenses incurred by the former president.

The problems began last November, after armed men stormed a military arsenal and several prisons in Freetown, freeing almost 2,000 inmates.

Koroma was charged with four counts of treason in connection with the coup attempt. He has been under house arrest since being questioned about the coup.

He denied any involvement in the attack that killed around 20 people. The coup attempt occurred five months after a disputed election that saw President Bio narrowly re-elected for a second term.

ECOWAS leaders attempted to broker a deal for Koroma to go into exile in Nigeria if the charges were dropped. Koroma had agreed in a letter to the settlement.

Koroma was president for 11 years until 2018, when current president Julius Maada Bio was elected. On Tuesday, another 12 people were charged in connection with the coup attempt, including one of Koroma's former bodyguards.


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