President Jonathan suspends Permanent Secretary over recall of Nigeria Envoy to South Africa

President Goodluck Jonathan has rebuked the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Danjuma Sheni, for allegedly prompting the recall of Nigeria’s envoys to South Africa without due authorisation, triggering a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

The president queried Mr. Sheni Monday, and placed him on suspension to allow investigation into the matter.

Nigeria announced the recall of its acting High Commissioner in Pretoria, Martin Cobham, and the deputy High Commissioner in Johannesburg, Uche Ajulu-Okeke, on Saturday, in protest of xenophobic attacks against African immigrants in South Africa.

A statement from the foreign affairs ministry, attributed to the minister, Aminu Wali, said the diplomats were “summoned for consultations” over the attacks.

South Africa slammed the decision, describing it as “unfortunate and regrettable”, and portraying Nigeria as opportunistic.

South Africa’s foreign affairs spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, said in a statement that his country was shocked that the Nigerian government would resort “to such an extraordinary diplomatic step to express outrage at actions or behaviour of another government”.
“We are not sure which actions or behaviour of the South African Government the Nigerian Government is protesting,” Mr. Monyela said. “If this action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country, it would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda.”
South Africa said it did not criticise the Nigerian government’s handling of the deaths of 84 of its nationals at a collapsed guest house of Synagogue Church of All Nations on September 12, 2014.

An outraged President Jonathan holds Mr. Sheni responsible for the recall of the diplomats.

A decision on whether to fire or replace Mr. Sheni will depend on his response to the query issued him, officials said.
“The president never authorised the recall,” one source said. “For you to recall an envoy, the man he represents has to know.”
Credit: Premium Times