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Nigeria Transfers Taylor to Liberia


Nigeria directed the immediate extradition of former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, to Liberia shortly after he was detained while trying to flee into Cameroon. United Nations officials in Monrovia have taken custody of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and sent him to a war crimes court in Sierra Leone. Taylor was transferred to a U.N. helicopter in the Liberian capital Wednesday shortly after arriving from Nigeria. The transfer was ordered by President Olusegun Obasanjo who is visiting the United States.

Nigeria's Information Minister Frank Nweke, who confirmed Taylor's arrest, said President Obasanjo had directed the immediate handover of Taylor to the Liberian authorities.

"Nigerian security forces, on the orders of President Olusegun Obasanjo, last night apprehended former Liberian president Charles Taylor in Gamboru, a Nigerian border town," Nweke said. "President Obasanjo has directed the immediate repatriation of Charles Taylor to Liberia, to be placed in the custody of the government of Liberia to help the government of Liberia, which had requested custody of the former president."

Several civil society groups in Nigeria have welcomed Taylor's arrest, but rejected plans to hand him over to Liberia instead of the U.N. Special Court in Sierra Leone.

Human rights activitist Musa Rafsanjani had long campaigned for Taylor to be delivered to the U.N. court that had indicted him for his alleged role in the armed conflict in Sierra Leone.

"The civil society groups, both in Liberia and others in the sub-region including Nigeria, what we demanded and what we are demanding still is that Charles Taylor be handed over to the court in Sierra Leone," Rafsanjani said. "That is the primary agitation and demand that Nigeria's civil society organizations and their colleagues across the sub-region are making. Charles Taylor must be handed over to the courts to face trial."

News of Taylor's arrest has come as a huge relief to many Nigerians who felt deeply embarrassed by his disappearance.

Security officials in Abuja told VOA that the former Liberian leader was arrested by immigration officials in northern Nigeria, on the border with Cameroon. He was said to be riding in a jeep with diplomatic registration, accompanied by a lady and the driver. He was not disguised and did not resist arrest.

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