Treat Gbagbo fairly, Nigeria urges
Lagos - Nigeria's foreign minister on Tuesday urged a fair treatment of Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo following his "surrender".
"Unfortunately, I am still not privy to the precise circumstances of Mr Gbagbo's surrender yesterday and the images flashed across our TV screens," Odein Ajumogobia told AFP.
"I do hope, and we in Nigeria and Ecowas will strongly urge, that he be treated fairly with respect and dignity. Fortunately, President Ouattara has assured us of this."
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is the current chairperson of West African bloc Ecowas, which repeatedly called on the Ivory Coast strongman to step down in favour of his internationally recognised rival Alassane Ouattara.
Gbagbo was detained on Monday by pro-Ouattara forces and taken to his rival's temporary hotel headquarters, where he was being guarded by the UN police amid fears of reprisals or summary justice.
Troops from France and from the UN peacekeeping force had been pounding Gbagbo's forces since Sunday in a bid to destroy the heavy weapons they were reportedly using against civilians.
France said its military had taken part in the weekend raids at the UN chief's request, and firmly denied reports its special forces had entered the Gbagbo compound or taken a direct role in his arrest.
Ajumogobia said he "would not want to speculate as to the precise circumstances of the involvement of French forces in Mr Gbagbo's surrender".
"Certainly their engagement was contemplated in United Nations Security Council resolution 1975 in support of an expanded Unoci mandate," he said, referring to the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast.
"Secondly, they were presumably entitled to have engaged at the request of the recognised President Ouattara. But as I said, I am going into the realms of speculation."
The UN Security Council resolution passed in March authorised the United Nations peacekeeping force to prevent the use of heavy weapons against civilians. Nigeria proposed the resolution along with France.