Authorities at Pademba Road Prison in Freetown, Sierra Leone, have officially confirmed a breach of the Central Prison, leading to the release of inmates.
Earlier on, Mimi Mefo Info (MMI) reported the Sierra Leonean government’s acknowledgment of an attempt by “unidentified individuals” to break into the country’s armoury, all of whom were reportedly apprehended.
Pademba Road Prison, also known as Freetown Central Prison, stands on Pademba Road and was originally designed to accommodate 220 prisoners during the pre-independence era. Presently, it houses around 2000 inmates.
Umaru Fofana, a Sierra Leonean journalist, shared information, revealing heavy gunfire in Freetown emanating from the main military barracks near Wilberforce, close to the president’s residence. Fofana reported, “Details are sketchy, but a senior military source says there has been a breakage into the armoury at Wilberforce.”
The Sierra Leonean government, in an update from the Ministry of Information and Civic Education, imposed a nationwide curfew in response to the unfolding events. The release, signed by Chernor Bah, the Minister of Information and Civic Culture, stated, “In the early hours of Sunday, November 26th, 2023, some unidentified individuals attempted to break into the military armory at Wilberforce barracks. They have all been rebuffed. The public is assured that the government and our state security forces are in control.”
To facilitate the apprehension process of the suspects, a nationwide curfew was immediately declared across the country. The public was strongly advised to stay indoors, with citizens encouraged to follow official Ministry of Information and Civic Education channels for accurate information and updates.
President Julius Maada Bio was re-elected in June, following a closely contested election where he narrowly missed a run-off.
After two months had passed, several soldiers were arrested and charged with conspiring to overthrow the president.
Today’s incidents add concerns of a possible military takeover after a series of military breaches and coups in several West African countries in recent years. Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic, and Gabon have all experienced coups, resulting in military juntas and sanctions from both the African Union and international organisations.