By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a joint press conference held at the Guma Building on Friday, January 19, 2024, the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Civic Education, provided the public with essential updates on the ongoing trials related to the failed coup attempt that took place on November 26th, 2023.
Honourable Chernor Bah, the Minister of Information and Civic Education, opened the conference by emphasizing the commitment to a fair trial process guided by the rule of law, emphasizing that the Government’s objective is not to witch-hunt individuals.
He underscored the Government’s dedication to upholding the principles of the rule of law and ensuring that justice is served through evidence-based proceedings. Minister Bah also highlighted the Ministry’s campaign, “Salone Above All,” aligning with President Bio’s call for unity and the breaking down of walls to foster peace.
Attorney General ,Mohamed Lamin Tarawalley, provided a comprehensive overview of the ongoing trials and addressed the recent decision of the High Court concerning the trial of Former President Koroma.
According to Tarawalley, the charges in connection with the November 26th incident include 27 serving military personnel and 13 civilians, facing various offenses such as treason, murder, misprision of treason, and harboring. The military personnel are confronted with 88 counts, while civilians face 20 counts.
The Attorney General explicitly mentioned that among the civilians charged is the former President, facing 4 counts of treason, 1 count of misprision of treason, and 2 counts of harboring. He clarified that these charges were not motivated by malice but were based on substantial evidence gathered through police investigations and statements.
Regarding Former President Koroma’s medical leave, Tarawalley explained that despite the Government’s opposition to granting bail for medical reasons, they respected the Court’s decision in adherence to the principles of the rule of law. He reiterated the Government’s confidence in possessing sufficient evidence to ensure justice for the events of November 26th, 2023.
The matter concerning Former President Koroma was adjourned to March 6th, 2024.
It a further development, former President Ernest Bai Koroma left Sierra Leone on a Nigerian Air Force flight bound for Abuja, Nigeria, on Friday 19th January, 2024 in the afternoon hours from the Freetown International Airport, Lungi. The former President, charged in connection with the failed coup attempt, was permitted to travel for specialized medical reasons as a humanitarian gesture, according to President Bio.
Former President Koroma was accompanied from his residence to the Water Taxi to Lungi by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Timothy Kabba, Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Peter Lavahun, Inspector General of Police, William Fayia Sellu, and his Lead Attorney, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara.
Worthy of note is that Nigeria offered to host Former President Koroma in Abuja as part of the agreement for his temporary relocation proposed by ECOWAS to President Bio.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has so far expressed its profound gratitude to the authorities of Sierra Leone for granting permission to former President Ernest Bai Koroma to travel out of Sierra Leone on medical and health grounds.
“ECOWAS commends the humanitarian gesture that stands to serve the greater interest of Sierra Leone and the ECOWAS region,” they said in a communiqué released on Saturday, 20th January, 2024.
They renewed their commitment to supporting the Government and the people of Sierra Leone in their efforts to foster peace and security as well as to deepen democracy and good governance.
President Bio in his address to the nation on Thursday, 18th January, 2024 said the former President who was charged for his alleged involvement in the 26th November failed attempted coup was allowed to travel out of the country on an humanitarian gesture for specialized medical reasons.