More than two months after a failed coup attempt to oust Julius Maada Bio, the president’s security forces are still looking for some of the suspected would be putschists. Interpole is helping with the manhunt.
Nearly 60 people- most of them soldiers- were arrested in the wake of the attempted putsch on 26th November 2023 against President Julius Maada Bio. But the Sierra Leone Police are still searching for around 20 individuals suspected of involvement. Inspector General William Faya Sellu’s investigators have sent Interpol information that should help identify them. They fear that some of the fugitives may have left the country, and are counting on the cooperation of some of Interpol’s almost 200 member states.
Neighbouring Guinea is one of the countries where the fugitives are likely to be based as some of the plotters are reported to have spent time there in the past and so have strong ties in the country. According to local police sources, who examined several mobile phones seized as part of the investigation, some of the presumed putschists, including retired army officer Amadu “Koita” Makalo and former police officers Kabba Dumbuya and Idrissa Kamara (aka “Leather Boots”) travelled through the Guinean town of Fodea before crossing into Sierra Leone on 25th November.
The same sources said the alleged coup plotters then went to the village of Mabaki, where pictures suggest they engaged in ritual sacrifices. They travelled from there to the city of Makeni, before reaching Freetown, where several dozen dissident soldiers were waiting for them. The troops then dispersed throughout the capital, before launching an assault on several strategic points in the early hours of 26 November, including the Cockerill Barracks.
Sierra Leone police reckon that those who managed to evade security forces after failing to seize their target sites may have returned to Guinea. Unlike Makalo, who was based in London in the year leading up to the coup, Dumbuya and Kamara had lived in Conakry since 2018.
According to the investigation, the two men were living in a villa made available to them by Ernest Bai Koroma, alias EBK, who served as president of Sierra Leone between 2007 and 2018, when he was voted out of office. EBK then asked Alpha Condé, Guinea’s president at the time to whom he remains close, to grant sanctuary two his two former security officers. Both men were implicated in a crackdown on the opposition when Koroma was in power, and feared reprisals from the new government.
These factors have fuelled suspicions about EBK, who now faces treason charges related to the failed coup. The All People’s Congress (APC), now the country’s main opposition party, which EBK still leads, has denied the former president’s involvement. Although it has condemned the coup attempt, the APC accuses the current government of using it to conduct a “witch-hunt” for political ends. The party also rejected the results of the June 2023 election that returned Bio to power, claiming voting had been marred by irregularities.
For some time now, the issue has been causing tension between the government of Sierra Leone and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Bio fears the regional organisation is working to ensure that his predecessor is granted asylum in Nigeria, where he has been staying since January for medical treatment. Freetown wants him extradited to face trial next month.
Culled from Africa Intelligence.

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