Chairman of the Council of Patriots, Henry p. Costa was due to be sent back to Liberia today by the Government of Sierra Leone following a request from the George Manneh Weah-led government, seeking extradition of its chief critic who reportedly fled the country on Sunday but the process, has run into some legal and extradition treaty complications.
Liberian government sources confirmed to reporters late Tuesday that Mr. Costa would be returning to Liberia by way of Africa World Airlines (AWA) Wednesday morning from Freetown via Accra, Ghana. The Monrovia-bound AWA flight, on which Mr. Costa should be on, departed Freetown at 9:00 am this morning passing through Accra before arriving in Monrovia by 1pm.
Bridge Radio Africa has learned that Mr. Costa who was being held at the Lungi International Airport was removed from there this morning and taken back to Freetown, meaning he will not be on the flight as expected. Meanwhile, the COP leader has reportedly solicited the help of a group of lawyers in Freetown to help prevent his extradition to Monrovia. Mr. Costa reportedly traveled to Liberia’s next-door neighbors in hopes of connecting on a flight to the United States of America.
Cllr. Findley Krangar, accompanied by Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods met with the Liberia Immigration Services Wednesday morning in a bid to respond to a declaration of Mr. Costa as a “wanted man” by the LIS.
On Tuesday, the LIS issued a statement declaring that Mr. Costa would be declared a wanted man if he fails to show up for investigation On Wednesday..
The COP leader is being investigated over his acquisition of Lassez Passer while being in possession of a valid passport. It’s alleged that the travel document he carries is forged.
Mr. Costa, in a Voice of America interview Wednesday expressed fears that he would be killed if the government in neighboring Sierra Leone honors a request from the Liberian government to have him returned Wednesday morning.
In an interview on the VOA’s Daybreak Africa Wednesday’s edition, Mr. Costa said he has committed no crime in Liberia for which he should be sent back.
“I will be killed if I returned to Liberia. I would be killed, so the Sierra Leonean authorities will have to know that. I will make that clear to them when I speak with them in the morning,” Mr. Costa stated.
Mr. Costa, who says he is being held at the local police station at the Lungi International Airport in Freetown, Sierra Leone, praised the professional handling of his case by the Sierra Leone police. Mr. Costa was initially scheduled to leave Liberia on Friday, January 10, but claimed that he was prevented by immigration officers whom he said had received instruction not to allow him to leave the country.
Costa said he had previously received information that the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) had been instructed to seize his passport, therefore, he refused to hand over his passport to them at the RIA on Friday.
The LIS released a statement Friday, clarifying that immigration officers never stopped Costa from traveling, rather, Costa voluntarily delisted himself after checking in with SN Brussels and asked for his luggage to be deplaned. “LIS says while it has received reports that Mr. Costa entered Liberia using forged travel documents, it did not arrest, stop nor accost him at the airport as he did not present himself to immigration officers,” the LIS release stated.