Thursday, October 9, 2014

Nigeria threatens South Africa over arms deal

Following the failed arms deal between a South African firm and the Nigerian government leading to the seizure of Nigeria’s $5.7m by the South African authorities, the Federal Government is said to be threatening the business concerns Nigerian-based South African entities.

A Nigerian firm Societe D’ Equipment Internationaux, and a South African company, Cerberus, had had a deal in which the latter was to supply some military hardware to the Nigeria firm on behalf of the federal government, but the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa froze the money which was wired to the South African firm for the arms deal.

The cash seizure, the second in a month, has understandably sparked diplomatic row between the two leading African nations.

Investigations have shown that top officers of the Federal Government were sorely vexed that the South Africans were deliberately embarrassing the nation in the eye of the international public.

According to Information Nigeria, “The issue could affect bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Africa,” the NSA official, who asked not to be mentioned said.

Although South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority made no immediate comment, the asset freeze has been widely reported in both Nigerian and South African media.

The NSA’s office source, who spoke to AFP, specifically mentioned MTN as a company that could be targeted should Nigeria decide to retaliate.

“You cannot be making so much money from Nigeria and then turn around and embarrass the people,” the Nigerian official said.

Investigations revealed that about 14 South African Companies operating in Nigeria are doing very well. Some of them include MTN, Power Giant, Eskom Nigeria, South African Airways,South African Breweries (SAB miller), Stanbic Merchant Bank of Nigeria, Multichoice, Umgeni Water, Refresh products, PEP Retail Stores, Shoprite, LTA Construction, Protea Hotels, Critical Rescue International, South African-Nigeria Communications, Global Outdoor Semces, Oracle, Airtime just to mention a few of them.

In addition, 14 Southern African companies have been contracted to collect revenues for PHCN.

Given the huge economic activity of South Africa in Nigeria, sources in the presidency believe the attitude of South Afria to Nigeria in this arms deal is a demonstration of utmost bad faith.

Already, some of the South African companies are jittery that the diplomatic offensives between Nigeria and South Africa could adversely affect their business operations.s

The NSA, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) had noted last Monday that Nigeria had provided economic platform to South Africa and thus expected it to be guided by such Nigerian gesture.

“It is our hope that South Africa would reciprocate this noble gesture,” , Dasuki, said Monday,

According to sources, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa had prior knowledge of the deal as his Nigerian counterpart Goodluck Jonathan had called him about the purchase. It therefore came as a surprise to the Nigerian government that the deal had been blocked.

Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj however 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.

The NSA official did not identify the South African broker.

The website of South Africa’s City Press named the firm as the Cape Town-based Cerberus Risk Solutions but that could not be independently verihought to have frayed in recent months.

The US offered military and logistical support in helping rescue the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April, but experts said the Americans were largely rebuffed by Nigeria’s top brass.

Already, it was gathered that the Nigerian government is compiling instances of aggression of South Africa to Nigeria with the intent of kicking off a diplomatic row.

As a prelude to it, the South African envoy to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, had been summoned over the botched arms deal which led to the seizure of millions of dollars.

The South African authorities had earlier confiscated $9.3m before the latest seizure of $7.5m, both meant for the purchase of arms by Nigeria...

Insiders expressed frustration with the action of South Africa, especially as the transactions are both between two legitimate entities.

This Day

Related stories: Another secret arms deal between Nigerian and South Africa goes awry - $5.7 million seized

$9.3 million in cash seized in South Africa traced to Nigerian intelligence agency

2 Nigerians attempt to smuggle $9.3million into South Africa

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