Liberian warlord and former President Charles Taylor has disappeared from his haven in Nigeria, just as he was to have been handed over to stand trial on war crimes charges, Nigerian officials said Tuesday.The irony, of course, is that President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had agree on Saturday to hand over Taylor to a UN tribunal sitting in Sierra Leone after receiving repeated requests from Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, was probably relieved that Taylor would not be on the schedule when he arrived at the White House this Wednesday. It should be an interesting meeting.
Taylor vanished Monday night from his villa in the southern town of Calabar, the government said. Last week, Nigeria's government agreed reluctantly to surrender him to stand before a U.N. tribunal on charges related to civil war in his homeland and its neighbor Sierra Leone.
A government statement said that President Olusegun Obasanjo was creating a panel to investigate Taylor's disappearance on Monday night. The statement raised the possibility he might have been abducted, but did not elaborate.
A presidential spokeswoman said members of Taylor's Nigerian security detail had been arrested.
The presidential statement offered no details on how Taylor's disappearance was discovered or whether he was being hunted.
Nigeria's Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday that dozens of people who had been living with Taylor in the villa in a walled government compound had left Monday and were flying to Lagos en route to an unknown destination.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Whoops! Charles Taylor disappears
I was going to write something this morning about how lame Nigerian President Obasanjo's efforts have been to convince Nigerians at home that his visit to the US (right now) has nothing to do with seeking a Third Term. But this trumps it (AP via the New York Times):