The Sierra Leone Anti-corruption Commission (ACC-SL), a government body that investigates and prosecutes corruption cases in the West African nation, is considering issuing an arrest warrant against the former president, Ernest Bai Koroma, after he failed to comply with a summons for questioning.
Koroma failed to appear before the anti-graft agency at its headquarters in the capital Freetown on Thursday because of concerns over his safety, his lawyers said.
The Francis Ben Kaifala-led ACC-SL wants to quiz Mr Koroma after an inquiry concluded that corruption during his 11-year presidency took the country to the brink of economic collapse.
The anti-corruption campaign was launched by Koroma’s successor, President Julius Maada Bio.
The former president was first summoned in September over allegations of wrongdoing in connection with mining, construction and procurement contracts, and follows an order on Tuesday to bar him and 111 officials from leaving the country after a judge-led inquiry alleged that they illicitly enriched themselves during his 2007-2018 tenure.
He was ordered to answer questions from the commission – which has prosecuting powers – in person on Oct. 5, he said.
Mr Koroma denies any wrongdoing, insisting corruption allegations are part of a long-running smear campaign.
Investigators blamed his supporters for physically preventing them from questioning him at his home on October 8.
Joseph Kamara, Koroma’s lawyer, said his client would agree to be interviewed in Freetown if the state provided necessary security for him to travel from his northern hometown of Makeni.
Koroma’s opposition All People’s Congress party denied there were any roadblocks, or that the crowd was hostile.
An earlier report commissioned by Maada Bio accused the previous administration of exploiting an Ebola outbreak in the West African country for personal gain.
Koroma’s Makeni property is among assets worth $200 million the government has ordered him and other officials forfeit or repay following an inquiry in September.
The former ruling All People’s Congress party, which Koroma still leads, has rejected the inquiry’s findings as “politically motivated, legally flawed and procedurally defective”. It plans to challenge it at the Court of Appeal.
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