Jonathan says Nigeria lied about Morocco call, orders full investigation

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Contrary to the assertions of officials of his Foreign Affairs Ministry, President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday that he has neither spoken to or had conversations with King Mohammed VI of Morroco, PM News reports.

In an embrassing twist to the brewing diplomatic row between Nigeria and the North African country, President Jonathan described claims that he had spoken with King Mohammed to “misinformation” in a statement issued on his behalf by Reuben Abati, his special adviser on media and publicity.

Abati added in the statement that the President had ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali to urgently undertake a full investigation of the claim which emanated from the Ministry.

“The investigation is to identify all those who were responsible for the unacceptable act of official misinformation which has resulted in an unnecessary diplomatic row with another country and national embarrassment.

“It is also expected to unveil the motives of the culprits.

“President Jonathan has also ordered that prompt and commensurate disciplinary action be taken against the culpable  person or persons,” said Abati.

But it is not clear why it took the presidency four days to react to the diplomatic row which began last Monday with a report on Morrocan website that King Mohammed VI has rejected attempts by the Nigeria President to have a telephone conversation with him because of the impending elections in the West African country.

But Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied the claim saying the two leaders had spoken extensively. “This information is absolutely not correct as the President did in fact speak to the Morrocan monarch… both leaders spoke extensively over the phone on matters of mutual interest and concern,” said Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry as described as “preposterous” the suggestion that the phone call to the Moroccan King was designed to confer electoral advantage on Jonathan. The controversies set off by the alleged phone conversation deepened on Wednesday.

The North African country not look only insisted that its King has not had any phone conversation with the Nigerian President, it also withdrew its Ambassador from Nigeria in protest of the claims by the Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

While describing the claims by the Nigeria Foreign Affairs as “unethical practices that are contrary to the spirit of responsibility that must prevail between two states,” the Morrocan monarch, in a statement on the Kingdom official website said “HM has actually declined the request of the Nigerian government because it is part of internal electioneering and this country fundamentally hostile positions with regard to the territorial integrity of the Kingdom.”

This is in obvious reference to Nigeria historic support support for the independence of Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic which Morroco has continue to hold on to as part of its territory despite the demand of the people of the tract of Sahara Desert led by Polisario Front for independence.

But President Jonathan who said he is “shocked, surprised and highly embarrassed by the controversy that has erupted over whether or not he had a telephone conversation with His Majesty, King Mohammed VI of Morocco,” said his aim on wanting to speak with the Morrocan monarch was to seek his support for Nigeria interest in the leadership of Africa Development Bank, ADB.

President Jonathan who added that he has nevee told anybody that he had a telephone conversation with the Moroccan Monarch said it is true that he has been speaking with some African leaders to seek their support for Nigeria’s candidate for the position of President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

“In continuation of his efforts in support of the candidacy of the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina for headship of the AfDB, President Jonathan indicated that he would like to speak with the King of Morocco, the President of Algeria and the President of Egypt.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was consequently directed to make necessary contacts with the embassies of the three countries and arrange for President Jonathan to speak with their leaders.

“Since that directive was given, President Jonathan has spoken with the Prime Minister of Algeria and subsequently sent Vice President Namadi Sambo to Algiers as Special Envoy to follow-up on his discussions with the Algerian Prime Minister on support for Nigeria’s candidate in the coming elections for the AfDB Presidency.

“The President has, however, not yet spoken with King Mohammed VI and President Al-Sisi of Egypt as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must know.

“President Jonathan has therefore ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali to urgently undertake a full investigation of the claim which emanated from the Ministry that the President spoke with King Mohammed VI.

“The investigation is to identify all those who were responsible for the unacceptable act of official misinformation which has resulted in an unnecessary diplomatic row with another country and national embarrassment.

“It is also expected to unveil the motives of the culprits.

President Jonathan has also ordered that prompt and commensurate disciplinary action be taken against the culpable  person or persons.

“While awaiting the outcome of the investigations, President Jonathan urges Nigerians to disregard the vituperations of opposition elements, who have, true to type, latched on to the regrettable faux pas as a fresh opportunity to unpatriotically  denigrate the government of their country and advance their irresponsible quest for victory at any price in the coming elections,” Abati said.

 

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