The Economic Community of West African States President Omar Touray revealed in a statement released on Tuesday and shared with journalists on Wednesday that the commission has decided to relocate the former Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, to Nigeria today, Thursday.
This decision comes following the indictment of the ex-Sierra Leonean president in connection with the failed coup on November 26, 2023.
Koroma was charged with four offences including treason for his alleged role in a failed military attempt to topple the West African country’s government in November.
The government said later that the foiled coup was led mostly by Koroma’s bodyguards. They summoned the ex-president for questioning at the start of December.
Koroma’s charges, which also include misprision of treason and two counts of harbouring, were read out while he stood in the dock and some of his supporters cried in the courtroom on Wednesday.
According to Koroma’s lawyer, Joseph Kamara, a dangerous precedent has been set.
“A dangerous precedent has been set… We are dragging a former head of state – democratically elected – on trumped up charges under a political vendetta,” Kamara said.
A high court later on Wednesday granted bail to the former president, who has been restricted at his home in the capital. The case was then adjourned until January 17.
According to Sierra Leone’s penal code, a person found guilty of treason could face imprisonment for life.
Twelve other people have also been charged with treason in connection with the failed coup, including ex-police and correctional officers and a member of Koroma’s security detail.
The statement issued by ECOWAS 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 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 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:
1. Government of Sierra Leone will discontinue all legal and administrative procedures against him;
2. The Government of Sierra Leone will also continue to disburse to him his benefits as former President;
3. The Government of Sierra Leone will secure his residences in the various locations in Sierra Leone,
4. The Government of Sierra Leone will consider refunding medical and travel expenses he has incurred.”