Reputation Fight: Ernest Bai Koroma Secretly Probed


Former Sierra Leone president, Ernest Bai Koroma, was on Monday probed by a commission looking into embezzlement and corruption cases during his presidential term. The probing was done in an undisclosed location following the cancellation of two previous hearings for security reasons.

Ernest Bai Koroma and Over 100 Officials

Together with over 100 other officials who served with him, Koroma is being investigated over unexplained wealth and money laundering. In March 2020, an inquiry commission established that millions of dollars were unaccounted for after reviewing the state-owned enterprises and ministries, dating back between 2007 and 2018, Koroma’s tenure.

The ex-president and his All People’s Congress (APC) party have refuted the claims as a scheme to stain his name.

The government earlier issued a public statement warning of impending dire action against anyone who would attempt to obstruct law enforcement agents from discharging their mandate. This came after the October incident, which saw Koroma’s supporters, in Makeni-North Sierra Leone, prevent Anti-Corruption Commission (APC) agents from taking him in for probing.

Travel Ban

Along with over 100 former officials, the ex-leader was earlier slapped with a travel ban barring them from leaving the country. An instruction signed by the minister of justice and attorney general instructs the country’s inspector general and chief immigration officer to prevent them from leaving. A party lawyer has hinted at plans to lawfully challenge the travel ban.

According to BBC, they have also been ordered to forfeit their houses and payback stolen money or face further investigations.

President Maada’s hard fight on corruption

President Julius Maad Bio, Koroma’s successor, has vowed to bring back the tens of millions of unaccounted dollars. Speaking to BBC, he outwardly shunned corruption.

“We have to draw the line…we cannot be this corrupt as a nation and expect to develop,” President Maada told BBC.

Among his milestones in his fight against corruption in the country was the formation of a commission of inquiry. The commission, led by foreign judges, identified 111 persons comprising bankers, former heads of parastatals, and businessmen.

‘I will defend my reputation.’

In a public statement, the former head of state has said he will use legal avenues to clear his name.

“On my part, while I will always support the fight against corruption and the quest for accountability in public office, I will muster all available legitimate and democratic means to robustly defend my reputation, which is being tarnished so mindlessly. In that vein, I will once again defer to my lawyers to look into the Reports, the White Paper and the series of maligning actions being instituted against me; to advise on my next course of action,” read part of the statement.

Karuma added in the statement that the move by the government was politically aimed at scaring “good-well-meaning citizens from getting involved in government.”



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