The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has sparked controversy with its plan to relocate former Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma to Nigeria. The move follows the recent events in Sierra Leone, where gunmen attacked a military armoury and prisons in Freetown, leading to the escape of nearly 2,000 inmates.
While Koroma denied any involvement in the attack, he and 11 others were charged on Tuesday over the attempted coup, which resulted in about 20 casualties. Koroma, who served as President for 11 years until 2018, has been implicated in the recent unrest, including one of his former bodyguards.
In a statement on Wednesday, ECOWAS Commission President Omar Alieu Touray revealed that the decision to relocate Koroma was based on an agreement reached by an ECOWAS Mission to Freetown on December 23. According to Touray, Koroma has accepted the offer to be hosted in Nigeria, and, subject to approval, arrangements would be made to fly him out of Freetown.
However, Sierra Leone Foreign Minister Timothy Kabba expressed the government’s disapproval of the proposed relocation, describing it as a unilateral proposition by the ECOWAS Commission President. The former President’s acceptance of the offer to be hosted in Nigeria adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing situation.