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President Jonathan suspends Perm. Sec, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

By The Rainbow
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Permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, Danjuma Sheni, was on Tuesday suspended on the orders of President Goodluck Jonathan over the controversial recall of Nigeria's high commissioner to South Africa.

The recall of Nigeria’s envoys in South Africa  following xenophobic attacks on foreigners, had generated a diplomatic spat between Nigeria and South Africa as the South African authorities felt it was an over reaction to a matter it had worked very hard to put under control.

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.

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'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”.

Sheni was suspended for his alleged role in the controversy surrounding their invitation back home.

The government had on Monday denied recalling her envoys to South Africa after the South African authorities described it as unnecessary.

Sheni has been queried by the head of service of the federation, Danladi Kifasi, on the orders of Jonathan.

Reuben Abati, presidential spokesman, had told the media that there was no truth in the report that Nigerian envoys in South Africa had been recalled. Abati had explained that the true situation was that the country's Charge D'Affairs was invited for consultation.

Sheni's offence, sources said, was that he did not get clearance from the president before inviting the country's charge d'Affairs in South Africa for consultation.

Jonathan was miffed that the ministry “embarrassed” him again after the diplomatic row between Nigeria and Morocco over whether he indeed spoke with King Mohammed VI as claimed by the ministry. A new permanent secretary has been redeployed to the ministry to replace him.

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