Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 December 2023:
Police in Freetown have invited the former President of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma to the Criminal Investigations Department in Freetown for questioning, after scores of military and police officers were arrested following a series of armed attacks on Sunday, 26 November 2023, at the Wilberforce ammunition stores as well as the country’s main prison, where over one thousand prisoners were set free.
A statement issued by Information Minister Cherno Bah says that “The former president is invited to assist the police in the ongoing criminal investigations into the November 26 failed attempted coup in Sierra Leone.”
Supporters of President Bio and his actions are now rubbing their hands in glee. They are clear where these allegations of coup and arrests will lead, before the facts.
This is what one SLPP commentator said on social media: “This invitation and its consequences may be the beginning of the end of Ernest Koroma’s fame and influence. The end of these investigations may show his fingerprints all over this attempted coup. It shows clearly – all his associates are organizers of the coup. And there are grave consequences if and when the investigations clearly implicate him.
“As it stands, because of this coup, he has started losing support among his party and on the streets and no one appears ready to totally stand with him after an undisputed and unequivocal evidence is put together. In many APC WhatsApp groups, their progressives have started speaking up against this coup and against Ernest koroma. And their voices are getting louder and louder with support increasing. Many APC supporters have come to the realization that Ernest Koroma and his people have been betraying them for years. Now, they want to push the reset button for their party and March forward.”
Although government officials, including President Bio have declared that the armed attacks amounted to an attempted coup, senior military officers say it was not an attempted coup, and so do many Sierra Leoneans who are accusing the President of planning and stage managing the attacks, as a pretext for the arrest of opposition APC supporters, members and their leaders.
In August 2018, after mass street demonstrations across several towns and cities in the country against President Bio’s poor handling of the economy and grotesque human rights abuses, leaders of the APC were accused by President Bio of inciting public unrest.
President Bio went as far as to denounce the APC as a terrorist group that must be destroyed.
Today, many of the leaders of the APC are either behind bars accused of plotting to overthrow President Bio’s government, or are in hiding in fear of their lives.
Since 2018, over 200 innocent Sierra Leoneans have been killed by security forces with impunity, after taking part in Street demonstrations, including dozens of unarmed prisoners at the Pademba Road prison in Freetown.
The government says the police have invited former President Koroma for questioning, as some of those arrested after the November 26 armed attacks were members of the former President’s security staff.
A senior APC executive member in Freetown told the Sierra Leone Telegraph today that the APC and its leadership have nothing to do with the November 26 armed attacks. This is what he said:
“The APC has nothing to gain by plotting and staging a coup against the government, but everything to lose. Since the controversial elections of June 23rd 2023, APC has enjoyed an overwhelming support from the international community to help broker political dialogue with the government. So why should APC jeopardise its international goodwill for a risky, poorly resourced, and unpopular coup against the government that will fail.
“This alleged coup is an attempt to not only smear our leaders but to destroy our party and its leadership so we can no longer take part in politics in Sierra Leone as long as SLPP are in power. But we will resist this strongly in the courts, as and when our supporters and members are charged for whatever crimes.”
Responding to the invitation from the police for questioning, the office of former president Koroma said: “The Office of Former President, HE Ernest Bai Koroma, hereby informs the public that former President Koroma has on Thursday 7th December received an invitation from the Inspector General of Police in Freetown. Former President Koroma will therefore be traveling to Freetown to honour the said invitation. “I maintain an open mind and stand ready to support the police investigations to the fullest. Let the rule of law reigns supreme in our democracy,” said former President Koroma. In this respect, former President Koroma appeals for calm, for public support for the police investigation, and for the due process of the law.”
There are reports that former President Koroma has arrived in Freetown tonight from Makeni and will proceed to the CID tomorrow morning.
Concerns are being raised that the majority of those 17 military officers who died in the November 26 armed attack at the Wilberforce ammunition store and buried yesterday in Freetown, were all from the North or Northwest of Sierra Leone, the opposition APC stronghold.
Many conspiracy theorists are accusing President Bio of using those soldiers as fall-guys in his deadly attempt to stage an armed attack aimed at destroying the leadership of the APC.