C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 000491
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ADDED ADDRESSEE-LONDON)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2012
TAGS: PREL PGOV NI LI
SUBJECT: OBASANJO TAYLOR MEETING CONFIRMED
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN CAMPBELL FOR REASONS 1.4 A, B, and D
Â¶1. (C) Summary. Ambassador on Feb. 28 in Abuja asked
Nigerian presidential spokesman Femi Fani Kayode about
reports the President Met with Charles Taylor on Fberuary 26.
The Ambassador said the USG wanted Taylor brought to justice
and noted Obasanjo's repeated statements that Nigeria would
extradite Taylor if requested by a democratically elected
Government of Liberia. Kayode said he believed the meeting
did take place and said Nigeria would respond favorably if
Liberia requested Taylor be turned over. Economic officer
spoke with Cross River State Governor Donald Duke, who
confirmed that Obasanjo, Taylor, and Duke met Feb. 26 in
Lagos at Taylor's request. Duke said the former Liberian
president wanted to learn whether Taylor could continue to
reside in his current housing in Calabar and that Obasanjo
said "yes." End summary.
Â¶2. (C) Ambassador met Feb. 28 in Abuja with Nigerian
presidential spokesman Femi Fani Kayode and asked about
whether press reports about a brief meeting on Feb. 26 with
former Liberian President Taylor were correct. Kayode
confirmed the meeting, but caveated that he had not spoken to
President Obasanjo about it directly.
Â¶3. (C) The Ambassador said the USG wanted Charles Taylor
brought to justice. He noted President Obasanjo's repeated
statements that Nigeria would honor a request for extradition
from the head of a democratically elected Government of
Liberia, and that new Liberian President Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf was coming to Nigeria this weekend. Kayode
said Taylor still lived under tight controls in Calabar. And
that most importantly, there were firm Government of Nigeria
(GON) limits on Taylor's involvement with Liberia, well
understood by Taylor. Taylor ccould travel from Calabar only
when taken or escorted by the Cross Rivers Govenor Duke.
Â¶4. (C) Kayode said the ball was in Johnson-Sirleaf's court.
Nigeria would respond favorably if Liberia requested Taylor
be turned over. Nigeria was bound to live up to its promise.
Â¶5. (C) Economic officer spoke with Cross River State Governor
Donald Duke on Feb. 28, shortly after Duke returned to
Calabar from Lagos. Duke confirmed that Taylor, Obasanjo,
and he had met Feb. 26 at Murtala Muhammed International
Airport in Lagos. The governor said he was Taylor's "host"
and implied Duke attended only in this capacity. Duke said
the meeting was held at Taylor,s request, and that the
former Liberian president sought to "try to sort himself out
locally." He said Taylor specifically wanted to learn from
Obasanjo whether Taylor could plan to continue residing in
his current housing in Calabar. According to Duke, Obasanjo
replied "yes." The Nigerian press reported Feb. 27 that
Taylor arrived at Lagos airport in a Nigerian presidential
aircraft, that Taylor's talks with Obasanjo lasted only 30
minutes, and that Taylor and Duke were to return together to