By Kemo Cham
A high court in Freetown on Tuesday granted bail to Sierra Leone’s former President Ernest Bai Koroma, in line with a request by his lawyers to enable him travel for medical checkup.
Koroma is expected to travel to Nigeria, according to the court’s ruling which said that the decision was taken in due consideration of his “devastating condition.”
The development comes amid reports that the government had agreed to a proposal by the West African bloc, ECOWAS for the former president who faces treason charges to be temporarily relocated to Nigeria.
There has been no official confirmation or denial of this by either the government or Koroma’s people.
Koroma faces four count charges, including treason, for his alleged involvement in the November 26 failed attempted coup. He was charged alongside 12 other people, many of them former associates of his, including former security aids and people who served in his administration.
Several military officers involved in the failed coup are also facing a court martial.
The relocation proposal by ECOWAS came shortly before Koroma’s indictment was made public. It also followed a visit by the leaders of Senegal and Ghana, Macky Sall and Nana Akufo Addo for talks with President Julius Maada Bio in Freetown last month. The details of that meeting wasn’t made public.
The government had however reportedly rejected the proposal.
Last week, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray visited the country and held talks with President Bio, according to reports.
Koroma served as President of Sierra Leone for two consecutive terms of five years each, from 2007 to 2018. He was challenged in one occasion, in 2012 by current President Julius Maada Bio.
Since 2018 when Bio came to power, the two political leaders have not seen eye to eye.
Koroma’s case is being heard by a lower court, which adjourned the hearing to March 6.
But the High Court ruling granting him leave notes that he is allowed to stay in Nigeria for not more than three months and that his sureties are required to provide regular medical updates, signed and duly authorized to the court.
Koroma is also expected by the court to observe all bail conditions imposed on him.