MONROVIA: Liberian People’s Party (LPP) Presidential Candidate, Tiawan Saye Gongloe says the extradition of Sierra Leonean former law enforcement administrator, Mohammed “Yeate Yeate ” Turay, is a conspiracy theory between Liberia and Sierra Leone Governments meant to protect each other.
But their action, he said endangered the lives of refugees in both countries who may have run away from their countries of origin for the well-founded fear of “persecution”.
Gongloe told the media that Liberia erred to have extradited Sierra Leone Turay. Therefore, if he is killed by President Julius Maada Bio as a result of torture or dehumanized treatment, Liberia must be held responsible.
He told a news conference midweek in Monrovia that it was wrong and unacceptable for Liberia to have extradited Turay, something which has never happened before by any country in West Africa, therefore Liberia has broken an international humanitarian law thereby exposing a conspiracy for both Liberia and Sierra Leone regimes to protect each other.
Gongloe said despite the 1986 Non-Aggression Treaty entered into by the Governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and later Ivory Coast, this has never happened within the Mano River Union (MRU) history in particular, and West Africa by extension.
Liberia early this week, extradited Turay to his country, stating that it is in keeping with the laws of Liberia and the 1986 Non-Aggression Security Treaty entered into by the Governments of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, as the decision is also in line with the 1994 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention.
“Yeate Yeate” as he is known in his native Sierra Leone, was escorted back by heavily armed guards made up both the military and police officers that came for him on Liberian soil, taking him away on Monday night, August 7, following his arrest last Friday, August 4.
He is amongst a dozen others accused by the Sierra Leonean Government of being part of a foiled coup plot against President Julius Maada Bio early this month.
Liberia claims that the Sierra Leone government has given it assurances that the rights of the accused will be respected, including giving Turay a free, fair, and speedy trial. “And based on an investigation that we conducted, it is appropriate to hand over Turay as requested,” the release signed by Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie said.
Prior to his arrest, Turay had lived with his family in Liberia for nearly two years, most recently in the Brewerville Community suburb of Monrovia. He was extradited barely 24 hours after the Montserrado County Attorney, Counselor Alhaji Sesay, requested Criminal Court ‘A’ to subpoena the two leading General Service of Mobile (GSM) companies in the country to provide the former Police Chief’s call logs for investigation.
The subpoena request focused on Turay call logs from the period of Thursday, June 1 to Friday, August 4, 2023, “the period of the planning of the alleged coup and after it was foiled.”
“The situation of coup in the sub-region is worrisome, and with our elections on hand, we have to jealously protect our democracy during this difficult period,” Sesay said, adding that his office is prepared and ready to legally cooperate with any country to extradite any of “their citizens in Liberia”, based on subversive activities.
But Gongloe went further to state that what Liberia did, no country within the sub-region has the history of doing; extraditing people who ran from their country of origin for well-founded fear of “persecution”, whether it is for political reason or not, which does not make any sense.
He stated that Liberia under George Weah’s presidency has set that record, as there is no politics about this development despite the country being in an electoral season, adding, “We are talking about the breaking of international law and humanitarian law for that matter.”
“For a former law enforcement administrator, who was dismissed and sought refuge in another country for safety, to have been extradited on Tuesday, 8 August, means that Liberia has set a “bad record” which does not augur well,” Gongloe noted.
On extradition treaty, he said there is none between Liberia and Sierra Leone, and/or other country (ies) in the sub-region, therefore the government should not have extradited Turay; by doing so, she has set a “bad precedent.”
He pointed out that Liberia is under obligation as a country to protect the lives and rights of those who may have run away from their countries for a well-founded fear of “persecution”, which Liberia has broken.
For example, there were many Liberians who ran away from Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor’s regimes who went to Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, but they were never sent back here because doing so would have broken international humanitarian law.
In 1988, Sierra Leonean Government, under the regime of the late President Joseph Siadu Momo, refused to hand over the then fugitive and former President, Charles Taylor, over to the Liberian Government of the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe, when he was arrested and detained in Freetown.
With the latest development, Gongloe is calling on other political parties and rights groups everywhere to condemn the human rights violation by the Liberian government, which is unprecedented and should never go unchecked.
However, for some time now, there has been a worrisome trend of too many military coups within the sub-region, mainly in francophone countries, namely Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.