Sierra Leone imposes travel ban on ex-president over graft claims

Sierra Leone's former President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Photo credit: File | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Former president Ernest Bai Koroma also has five of his houses earmarked for forfeiture over graft.
  • According to a leaked memo, police and immigration officers have been ordered not to allow Mr Koroma and 111 other officials who served in his administration to leave the country.

The government of Sierra Leone has imposed a travel ban on former President Ernest Bai Koroma who is currently under investigation over alleged corruption during his term in office.

Local media reports cited a memo from the country’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice ordering Police and Immigration officers not to allow Mr Koroma and 111 other officials who served in his administration to leave the country pending investigations by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

The memo, which was leaked on social media, listed Mr Koroma, his former vice president Victor Bockarie Foh, and almost all former cabinet ministers who served in his administration between 2007 and 2018 as persons of interest.

Also on the list are heads of departments and State agencies.

The statement said the officials can only be allowed to leave the country with clearance from government.

The order comes less than a week after current president Julius Maada Bio vowed to implement recommendations of the Commission of Inquiries (COI)  which he unveiled on Thursday, September 24.

The COI was instituted after Mr Bio assumed office in 2018 following elections that ended Mr Koroma’s over 10 years at the helm.

The Commission findings revealed the misappropriation of hundreds of millions of dollars. 

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio. 

Photo credit: File | AFP

Repay funds

Among recommendations are that all those found culpable should repay monies they misappropriated and/or forfeit properties illegally acquired during the period.

The former president already has five of his houses earmarked for forfeiture to the State.

All other officials listed have 90 days to refund the government or face further action.

Mr Koroma’s party, the All People's Congress (APC), has rejected the COI's findings which it says are a ploy to victimise the opposition party's members.

APC has vowed to fight the government’s attempt to implement the Commission's decisions in court.

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