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Nigeria Confirms Liberia Request for Taylor's Extradition


Nigeria's government says it is considering an extradition request coming from Liberia for former President Charles Taylor. The former regional warlord, who is wanted for alleged war crimes in Sierra Leone, was given asylum in Nigeria in 2003 to end Liberia's civil war.

A spokeswoman says Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will consult with leaders from the African Union and the West African bloc (ECOWAS) on how to respond to the request.

Mr. Obasanjo has previously said he would honor an extradition request coming from a duly elected Liberian leader.

But a Nigerian Foreign Ministry official, Charles Omuabo, tells VOA it could take time.

"One cannot say immediately now, that if there is an extradition request, it will happen today or tomorrow or next month. It is something that will still go through the due process of the law," he said.

Nigeria's confirmation of the request comes a day after U.S. lawmakers, who met with Liberia's new president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Washington, said she had told them her government had formally asked Nigeria to turn over former President Taylor.

The announcements put to rest speculation on whether the request had been made during a recent meeting between Mrs. Sirleaf and Mr. Obasanjo.

Mrs. Sirleaf has previously said she is ready to hand over Mr. Taylor to the special United Nations-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Taylor is wanted there for trading diamonds for weapons, and recruiting child soldiers, spreading chaotic warfare as he was also accused of doing in Liberia, Guinea and Ivory Coast. He has denied the charges against him, and has been living in a luxurious villa in southeastern Nigeria, since fleeing Liberia, and calling himself a sacrificial lamb.

A spokesman for Taylor said earlier this week that the terms of his asylum in Nigeria precluded a trial. The Taylor spokesman accused the United States of seeking to persecute African leaders with hybrid courts.

The U.S. government has repeatedly said it wants Mr. Taylor tried for war crimes, and that impunity must end in war-torn West Africa.

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