Nigeria Asks Taylor To Leave
-As Debates Continue Back Home
By: Lewis K. Glay
The sources were quoting President Olusegun Obasanjo’s spokesperson as informing Mr. Taylor to park and leave Nigeria following an alleged written letter from the Liberian Government through President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf requesting the former President to be turned over for onward transfer to neighboring Sierra Leone for prosecution.
Though the news has sparked up tension in the country at the moment, the
Liberian Government through its Information Minister Johnny McClain said
it is untrue, claims by associates of Mr. Taylor, that government has requested
the Nigerian Government to extradite the former President to go to Freetown.
President Sirleaf is also quoted as confirming that during her recent visit to Nigeria, prior to her European trip, she held talks with her Nigerian counterpart Obasanjo on the Taylor issue for further consultations with the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Madam Sirleaf is said to have hinted the Nigerian leader that many bilateral negotiations she had held with foreign partners, the issue of Mr. Taylor had become a concern, something she termed as a stumbling-block and a hindrance to progress and any focused initiatives to be undertaken by her government in Liberia’s rebuilding process.
Even as the President has left for the United States where she is expected to address the Congress, The FORUM is told that Mr. Taylor’s issue will adequately be discussed.
Since the alleged request by the Liberian Government to extradite Mr. Taylor, his associates and sympathizers have mounted concerns as to what next that could happen to him.
The exiled President’s wife, now Senior Senator of Bong County, Jewel Howard Taylor claimed that her husband has acknowledged her about the extradition letter while the Chairman Emeritus of the National Patriotic Party(NPP), Cyril A. Allen has alleged that the letter in question was written on 6 March 2006.
Over the weekend, top executives of the party visited the residence of President Sirleaf to seek clarification on the Taylor issue, following which Party Chairman Lawrence George was quoted as saying that Madam Sirleaf did admit that she wrote President Obasanjo about Mr. Taylor’s extradition.
Prior to the visit, the party last Saturday held a press conference at
its Sinkor Headquarters, expressing what it called “serious concerns”
over the development relating to government’s alleged request for
the immediate surrender of the former President to its custody.
The party reminded the government that the resignation and subsequent departure of Mr. Taylor to Calaba, Nigeria, in 2003 was an integral part of the peace process that led to the inauguration of the present government.
The NPP noted that any efforts to abrogate a particular segment of the process have the propensity to undermine the very peace that African and other world leaders have immensely contributed to.
Meanwhile, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa came to Abuja on Sunday to confer with President Olusegun Obasanjo over the extradition of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor.
Taylor is requested by his country’s President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf,
to answer for alleged war crimes.
Mbeki was the Chairman of a special African Union (AU) committee set up to resolve the Liberian crisis in 2003 when the deal was struck to get Taylor out of Monrovia to avert further bloodshed.
The agreement was brokered among the AU, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United States and the United Nations (UN).
Discussions between Obasanjo and Mbeki were held behind closed doors at
the Villa on Sunday.
The government confirmed that talks were on with Monrovia preparatory to extraditing Taylor, who has reportedly been given three weeks to gather his belongings for the handed over.
Obasanjo reportedly met with him in Calabar last Friday to brief him on
the latest developments.
Presidential Spokesperson, Oluremi Oyo, said Obasanjo and Mbeki deliberated the Taylor issue as well as bilateral concerns between Nigeria and South Africa.
Taylor has been indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal sitting in Sierra Leone on charges of murder, rape, sexual slavery and use of child soldiers in that country where he allegedly sponsored rebels to topple the government.