Koroma Arrives in Nigeria Amid Treason Charges
Sierra Leone’s former President, Ernest Bai Koroma has today arrived in Abuja, Nigeria amidst legal challenges related to treason charges.
The journey commenced as President Koroma boarded the Nigeria Air Force One Flight, a symbol of diplomatic camaraderie between the former President and the federal republic of Nigeria.
The flight itinerary set the stage for an approximately 2.5-hour journey from Freetown International Airport (FNA) to Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe Airport in Abuja. This meticulous planning reflected not only the efficiency of the transport arrangements but also the diplomatic significance of President Koroma’s visit to the Nigerian capital.
Adding to the grandeur of the occasion, President Koroma was accompanied by eminent personalities, underlining the diplomatic importance of his mission. Notable figures escorting him included the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Timothy Kabba, the Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Peter Lavahun, the Inspector General of Police, William Fayia Sellu, and his lead attorney, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara.
The presence of such high-ranking officials highlighted the diplomatic gravity of President Koroma’s visit to Abuja. Their accompaniment underlined the importance of fostering strong bilateral relations, as well as the respect and recognition accorded to the former President.
Facing treason charges linked to a failed coup in November against President Julius Maada Bio’s government, the 70-year-old departs amid controversy. Gunmen stormed military barracks and prisons during the unsuccessful coup, resulting in inmate releases and the death of at least 20 people.
Despite ruling Sierra Leone from 2007 to 2018, Koroma vehemently denies any involvement. President Bio, in a Thursday night address to the nation, emphasizes that granting medical leave to the former President doesn’t exempt him from legal proceedings.
President Bio asserts, “This humanitarian gesture does not detract from the seriousness of the ongoing trials.” He emphasizes that the trial aims to uncover the truth behind the November 26, 2023, events, stating, “It reinforces our position that the trial is not a political witch-hunt but one aimed at unraveling the truth.”
However, speculation has arised about the government and West African leaders’ brokered deal for Koroma’s exile in Nigeria, despite a court appearance scheduled for March.