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Following Treason Charges over Failed Coup, Ex-Sierra Leone President Koroma Granted Political Asylum in Nigeria 

A high level officer in the Nigerian government said Koroma will land in Abuja on Thursday.

Baring any last minute changes, the Former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Koroma would be arriving Nigeria on Thursday on political asylum.

The former President who was investigated for his role in a botched coup d’etat and was found culpable of complicity.

A signed public notice by Sierra Leonean Minister of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah stated that: “On Wednesday, January 3, 2024, in front of Magistrate Santigie Bangura at Magistrate Court #2, the Republic of Sierra Leone charged Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma for his alleged role in the failed coup of November 26, 2023.

The notice added that: “The former President is charged with four offences, including treason, misprision of treason, and two counts of harbouring.”

In what seems like avoiding the former President’s disgrace and perhaps imprisonment, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) succeeded in getting political asylum for him in Nigeria, where he is expected to be harboured for some time.

A letter by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray addressed to the present President of Sierra Leone, Julius Bio under the headline: “Temporarily Relocation of Former President to Abuja” requested for the former President to be allowed to travel to Nigeria.

The letter written on January 2, 2024 with Presidents, Bola Tinubu (Nigeria), Nana Akufo-Addo (Ghana) and Macky Sall (Sierra Leone) copied read: “I refer to the mission to Freetown on 23 December of the high-level ECOWAS delegation led by His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Republic of Ghana, and His Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal.

“I am please 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 4 January 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:

Government of Sierra Leone will discontinue all legal and administrative procedures against him;

The Government of Sierra Leone will also continue to disburse to him his benefits as former President;

The Government of Sierra Leone will secure his residences in the various locations in Sierra Leone;

The Government of Sierra Leone will consider refunding medical and travel expenses he has incurred.

“While looking forward to Your Excellency’s favourable response, I take the opportunity to renew to Tour Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Though none of the staff in the Information Unit of ECOWAS was ready to speak on the letter by Touray, a high level officer in the Nigerian government who spoke anonymously said the former President is being expected to touch land in Abuja to begin the political asylum.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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