Mass arrest of both present and former officials of government is being reported across Sierra Leone, following a suspected coup plot to unseat incumbent President, Julius Maada Bio, but foiled during the early hours of Sunday, November 26, in Freetown.
Accordingly, over 100 officials, among them 6 female ex-soldiers, 9 retired senior officers, 5 present serving officers in the regime, 4 ex-workers to former President, Ernest Bai Koroma, including his aide-camp only identified as Soriba, and many more, are being detained at various military barracks or detention centers across the country.
Gunmen had attacked a major military armory barracks in the city of Freetown, during the early hours of Sunday, November 26. Residents reported hearing gunshots at the barracks, which is close to the Presidential residence.
This followed when some unidentified individuals attempted breaking into the military armory at Wilberforce Barracks during the early hours of Sunday, early this week in Freetown, but were all rebuffed.
However, early yesterday morning, Sierra Leonean government reduced the imposed curfew, so instead of the dusk-dawn decree, it is now from 9:PM to 6:AM as of today (Tuesday), November 28.
Information and Civic Education Minister, Chernor A. Bah, told a local Liberian radio station, OK FM, yesterday morning, that a mopping exercise of pursuing the perpetrators by State security forces is ongoing across Sierra Leone.
However, he downplayed the rumors of a military coup plot against the regime that is being accused of election rigging. In the foregoing, the government has assured the public that the State security forces were in control, but to enable it to continue the process of apprehending the suspects, a nationwide curfew has been declared with immediate effect across the country.
Earlier, citizens were advised to stay indoors, and at the same time, urged to follow the channels of the official hurdles for accurate information and updates on the situation in the country (Sierra Leone).
Since June of this year, the political situation in Sierra Leone has remained tense, after President Bio was re-elected following an allegedly contentious polls believed to have been rigged.
Both local and international observers who monitored the polls condemned inconsistencies and a lack of transparency in the count, as well as acts of violence and intimidation.
In August of this year, a number of soldiers were arrested and accused of plotting a coup against the President. Therefore, the attempted plot against Bio is not strange and should not be a surprise.
Let it be known that the situation in Sierra Leone is not, and should not, be a strange matter. In the last four years, there have been seven military coups in West and Central Africa. Four of the countries experiencing coups are members of ECOWAS, a regional organization set up to promote stability and cooperation.
In August 2020, a group of Mali’s colonels led a coup against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. In 2021, the military led a second coup against the interim President, Colonel Bah Ndaw.
Guinea experienced a coup in 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and most recently, Niger met the same fate when General Abdourahmane Tchiani seized power in July. Outside of West Africa, Chad and Sudan also experienced military coups in 2021.
Ever since the early days of their independence from European colonial rule, West African countries have faced political and economic tensions that often threatened their progress and stability.
The Economic Community of Western African States, known as ECOWAS, was established in 1975 as a response to these challenges. Its current members are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
The founders of the Economic Community of West African States wanted to create a large trading bloc that would facilitate self-sufficiency and cooperation among its member states in industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary, and social and cultural matters.
Whatever is happening in neighboring Sierra Leone, we condemn in the strongest terms. We believe that the path to State power should be by the ballot box and not the barrel of the bullet or gun, which can destroy the very lives those wanting to govern.
We do know that West Africa is a region struggling for peace and security. Therefore, these developments should not be strange, but the need to take precautions cannot be overemphasized.