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  • Thursday, 25 July 2024
Former President Ernest Bai Koroma Still in Nigeria: Medical Sojourn or Exile?

Former President Ernest Bai Koroma Still in Nigeria: Medical Sojourn or Exile?

It has been five months since Sierra Leone’s former president, Ernest Bai Koroma, left for Nigeria following a court ruling that allowed him to travel on medical grounds. At 70 years old, Koroma has been embroiled in a legal and political saga, facing allegations of treason related to a failed military coup last November—charges he has consistently denied.

 

In January, Koroma was permitted to leave Sierra Leone to seek medical treatment abroad despite the serious nature of the accusations against him. This decision came amid a turbulent political landscape, with President Julius Maada Bio's contentious re-election in 2023 still fresh in the public's memory. The opposition had contested the election results, and international observers raised concerns about their integrity.

 

Koroma's departure was shrouded in secrecy, sparking speculation and debate among Sierra Leoneans. Many question whether his extended stay in Nigeria is genuinely for medical reasons or if it represents a form of political exile. His legal team argues that the charges are baseless and politically motivated, designed to undermine his influence and that of his political allies.

 

Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, visited Sierra Leone twice following the November coup attempt, leading to speculation that ECOWAS might have facilitated an agreement for Koroma's relocation to Nigeria. This has added another layer of complexity to an already convoluted situation.

 

The Sierra Leonean high court adjourned Koroma’s case in March to allow more time for a fair legal process. This delay has left many in Sierra Leone in a state of uncertainty, particularly as other individuals implicated in the coup remain imprisoned. The prolonged absence of one of the key suspects raises questions about the future of the treason case and the potential political implications.

 

The debate over Koroma's stay in Nigeria continues to capture attention both domestically and internationally. The situation's outcome could significantly impact Sierra Leone's political stability and legal system's integrity, making it a closely watched issue.

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