Nigeria has threatened major South African companies operating in Nigeria, after accusing the country of blocking a legal arms purchase by seizing the sum of $5.7 million meant for it.
According to a top official of the National Security Advisor’s (NSA) office, Nigeria had agreed to buy $5.7 million worth of military hardware in a deal brokered by a South African firm, but authorities in the Southern African nation had frozen the 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, 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.
According to him, President Jacob Zuma 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.