By Lawrence Olaoye with agency report
The Federal Government, on Wednesday accused South Africa of blocking a legal arms purchase and threatened retaliation against major South African companies, including telecom giant MTN, if the spat is not resolved.
A top official in the office of Nigeria’s National Security Advisor (NSA) told AFP that the country had an agreement to buy $5.7 million (4.5 million euros) worth of military hardware in a deal brokered by a South African firm.
The official, who asked that his name be withheld, said Pretoria had frozen cash that had been wired to the South African firm’s account.
“The issue could affect bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Africa,” the NSA official said.
He specifically mentioned MTN, a South Africa-based mobile phone and Internet provider with tens of millions of subscribers in Nigeria, as a company that could be targeted in tit-for-tat reprisals.
“You cannot be making so much money from Nigeria and then turn around and embarrass the people,” the Nigerian official said.
He said Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan had called his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma to inform him about the purchase and Abuja was therefore surprised to learn that the deal had been blocked.
Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj declined to comment on the reported conversation between the two leaders, but told AFP the president was not part of the committee that reviews arms deals.
Meanwhile, President Jonathan yesterday threatened to sue the website, RichestLifestyle.com, which listed him as the sixth richest African President with assets worth $100 million.
The President, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said the website should be prepared to face the charge if libel should it refuse to retract the story and offer apology.
He said the inclusion in the list of richest African leaders was not only malicious but calculated to paint him as a corrupt leader and set him against the people.
The statement read: “We have noted with consternation the listing of President Jonathan by a website, RichestLifestyle.com – as the sixth richest African President with an estimated net worth of $100 Million U.S. Dollars.
“The Presidency therefore demands a retraction and an unreserved apology from Richest Lifestyle.com and all those who have reproduced the offensive article.