Viewing cable 03ABUJA1559
Title: PUBLIC REACTION TO TAYLOR ASYLUM AND LIBERIA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03ABUJA15592003-09-05 16:37:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 001559 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2013 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM MARR LI NI
SUBJECT: PUBLIC REACTION TO TAYLOR ASYLUM AND LIBERIA 
DEPLOYMENT 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY DCM RICK ROBERTS FOR REASONS 1.5 (b) AND (d). 
 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1.  (U) The Nigerian press headlined President Bush's 
recent commendation of President Obasanjo's efforts in 
Liberia, and the Nigerian President, received a heroic 
welcome in Liberia early this week.  Nevertheless, Obasanjo 
is still facing criticism at home for granting political 
asylum to Charles Taylor and deploying Nigerian troops to 
Liberia.  End summary. 
 
 
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President Bush's Commendation Letter 
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¶2.  (C) The President's letter to Obasanjo was front-page 
news in most Nigerian newspapers on September 1 ) even 
those usually critical of U.S. foreign policy.  Subsequent 
publications did not carry any comments, positive or 
negative, on the letter.  Most Nigerians have focused 
instead on domestic criticism of Obasanjo. 
 
 
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NIGERIANS CRITICIZE ASYLUM FOR TAYLOR 
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¶3.  (U) The Nigerian Union of Journalists has threatened to 
file a legal action against Taylor for the death of two 
Nigerian journalists, allegedly killed on Taylor's orders 
in 1990.  One local writer described Nigeria as the "new 
haven of Hitlers of Africa" and accused President of 
Obasanjo for being insensitive to prevailing local opinion. 
 
 
¶5.  (U) General Victor Malu, former Nigerian Chief of Army 
Staff and former Commander of ECOMOG was furious: "Charles 
Taylor has been responsible for the death of so many 
Nigerians, to say that Nigeria, of all the countries in 
West Africa is the one granting him asylum is the greatest 
insult to Nigerians, and whoever took that decision does 
not have the interest of this country", Malu told an 
influential local newspaper last month. 
 
 
¶6.  (U) Tom Ikimi, politician and former Nigerian foreign 
minister described as "dangerous" the granting of asylum 
and deploying Nigerian soldiers.  Ikimi told a recent press 
conference in Abuja that "Nigeria may be the strongest 
nation in West Africa, it is today weaving its way through 
a maze of complications all in the quest for solutions to a 
range of fundamental problems at home.  That is why no 
matter the justification for the more than $4 billion so 
far expended on Liberia, the ordinary Nigerian would find 
it difficult to understand why in addition to the further 
costs that are bound to follow we should bear the burden of 
looking after a character like Charles Taylor." 
 
 
¶7. (U) House Committee Chair on Appropriations Gabriel 
Suswan criticized President Obasanjo of spending money on 
Liberia without approval from the House.  The Daily Trust 
alleged that the current Liberian initiative has already 
cost Nigeria more than 65 million dollars. 
 
 
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COMENT 
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¶8.  (C) While President Obasanjo is receiving accolades and 
recognition from the international community for his peace 
efforts in Liberia and other international engagements, his 
popularity at home is under attack due to hard harsh 
economic conditions and insecurity.  His critics on those 
issues also attack him on Liberia for good measure. 
MEECE