DIPLOMATIC ROW: President Jonathan Suspends Foreign Affairs Perm Sec Over South African Spat

Ambassador Danjuma Nanpon Sheni
via THISDAY:
Following the controversy that trailed the purported recall of Nigeria's envoy to South Africa, and the denial by the presidency, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Danjuma Nanpon Sheni, has been suspended. The announcement on the recall of Nigeria’s ambassador to South Africa led to a scathing reaction from the latter’s foreign affairs ministry on Sunday and a personal jab at President Goodluck Jonathan on the Boko Haram insurgency and the kidnapping of the Chibok girls.
A presidency source who pleaded anonymity, said that Jonathan was neither informed nor put in the picture before the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced the recall of the nation’s envoy to South Africa resulting from the xenophobic attacks in that country. The source said that at a meeting the president held with the Foreign Affairs Minister Aminu Wali and other top government officials, which lasted till early hours of yesterday [April 28], Jonathan was said to have been extremely angry over the embarrassment the ministry had caused Nigeria diplomatically.
Last month, the ineptitude of the Foreign Affairs Ministry was brought to the fore when a non-existent phone call was said to have taken place between the King of Morocco and Jonathan which was refuted first by the monarch and later by the president. The development resulted in a diplomatic spat between the two countries and recall of the Moroccan ambassador to Nigeria.
The presidency added that with the latest development, Jonathan would have sacked Wali but for the closeness of the expiration of his administration's tenure. The suspended permanent secretary, according to the source, was first issued a query before he was suspended, while another permanent secretary was directed to replace him with immediate effect by the president. The presidency source said: “President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Danjuma Nanpon Sheni for causing the country this embarrassment.
“In this age of diplomatic dispatches, you don't need to recall or invite anyone before you ask questions. He was also queried. “The minister himself would have been fired, but was let off the hook because we have just one month to go. In less than two months, they had embarrassed the government.
Wali, who made this remark while appearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, was accompanied to the meeting by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs II, SenatorMusiliu Obanikoro as well as the acting High Commissioner to South Africa, Martin Cobham and Consulate General, Mrs. Uche Ajulu-Okeke.
According to him, Nigerians were not targeted in the attacks, adding that the degree of attacks suffered by Nigerians were minimal and hence, recalling Nigeria's ambassador to South Africa because of the development would be too harsh.




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