ABUJA – Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, wanted for war crimes by a court in Sierra Leone, has disappeared from his residence in southeastern Nigeria, the presidency said on Tuesday.
Taylor had lived in exile in Nigeria since 2003, but Liberia a
nd Nigeria have been at odds over what to do with him in a series of diplomatic exchanges over the past few weeks.
He is considered the mastermind behind once intertwined civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where he stands accused of supporting brutal rebels in exchange for diamonds.
“President Olusegun Obasanjo has approved the constitution of a panel of enquiry to look into the circumstances of the disappearance on Monday night, 27th of March, of Mr Charles Taylor … from his residence in Calabar,” the presidency said in a statement.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf asked Nigeria to hand over Taylor to stand trial in Sierra Leone. Nigeria replied that the Liberian government was free to take him into its custody.
Human rights groups had urged Nigeria to increase security around Taylor to prevent his escape, while the prosecutor of the Sierra Leone court had called for Taylor’s arrest.
The Nigerian statement said the panel would investigate whether Taylor had escaped or been abducted and recommend sanctions against those responsible.
Obasanjo ordered the arrest of all security staff attached to Taylor, a separate statement said. — Reuter