By Amin Kef (Ranger)
On Monday, 27 November 2023, President Dr Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone welcomed a powerful delegation composed of representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The visit was a response to a significant security breach that occurred on Sunday at Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown.
The delegation, which included Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Christopher Musa, its Chief of Defence Military Intelligence, Major General Emmanuel Udiandeye and President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, met with President Bio at State House to express solidarity in the wake of the security incident.
The team brought a message of unity from the Chairman of the ECOWAS Committee of Heads of State and President of Nigeria, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as well as the other ECOWAS Heads of State and Government. They confirmed the ECOWAS Member States’ commitment to maintaining democracy and good governance throughout the region and assured their readiness to work with President Bio’s Government to prevent future security breaches.
Special envoy, Nuhu Ribadu, conveyed President Tinubu’s gratitude to President Bio for standing with the people of Sierra Leone and for upholding democratic values. Ribadu reiterated the enduring friendship between Nigeria and Sierra Leone, assuring the Sierra Leonean leader of their continued support.
Commenting on the incident, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Touray, denounced the security breach and appealed to Sierra Leoneans to support the Government’s efforts to bring those responsible to justice. He reiterated ECOWAS’s zero tolerance for unconstitutional changes of Government in the region.
President Bio expressed gratitude for the visit and the support from Nigeria and ECOWAS. He reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to democracy, justice, the safety of its citizens and maintaining Sierra Leone’s leadership position in global institutions. He also referenced the country’s progress despite the challenges, focusing on food security as a development priority.
In a reference to the country’s political climate, President Bio said, “Ever since I won in 2018, it has been one issue after the other.” He mentioned the refusal of the main opposition to accept the 2023 election results and their role in causing unrest. However, he remained optimistic about the nation’s resilience and the commitment of its people to peace and stability.
The visit underscores the regional commitment to maintaining peace and stability in West Africa, highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts to address security concerns.