Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 January 2024:
The High Court in Freetown presided by Justice Taylor has granted bail to former President Koroma of Sierra Leone, who his doctors say needs medical treatment outside of the country. The 70-year-old former President will be travelling to Nigeria in the coming days.
Koroma was due in court today to answer to charges of involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the government of Sierra Leone, a claim his lawyers have strongly denied.
Speaking to Aljazera after the court decision today, Sierra Leone’s information minister Chernor Bah, said that the court’s decision to grant bail to the former President is consistent with the government’s determination to allow the rule of law to take its course.
He also said that the treason trial will continue in Koroma’s absence as there are other accused persons who have been charged with treason and are appearing in court.
The charges against former President Koroma he said, will remain open until such time that he returns to Sierra Leone. The trial is expected to resume in March 2024.
President of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu has agreed to allow the former President to stay in Nigeria for as long as is necessary.
Koroma has been serving house arrest since he was detained in November 2023, following what the government say was an attempted coup on 26th November 2023, when several shots were fired at various locations in the capital Freetown, including the military ammunition store at Wilberforce as well as the breaking of prison cells which saw thousands of escaped prisoners, many of whom have since returned to their cells.
Since his arrest and detention, sources close to the former President have been telling the Sierra Leone Telegraph about his poor health condition, which was yesterday confirmed in a comprehensive medical examination report seen by the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
Leaders of the West African regional block – ECOWAS and the leadership of the main opposition APC, of which President Koroma is its former chairman and leader, had privately called on President Julius Maada Bio to allow the former president to leave the country.
Sierra Leone remains tense, following general and presidential elections which were held in June 2023, the results of which international election observers have described as lacking transparency and integrity.
The main opposition APC say that the elections were rigged to favour President Bio, who is now serving his second and final term in office.
After months of political impasse, the Commonwealth, the African Union and other international partners in the country brokered a peace accord between the government and the APC, with strict terms and conditions, including a review of the country’s elections machinery, systems, processes and laws, and the release of all political prisoners, many of whom APC supporters say have been secretly killed by security forces and ruling party agents.