“President Jonathan Has Not Spoken To King Mohammed” – Reuben Abati

President Goodluck Jonathan admitted Friday that he did not speak on telephone with the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, as claimed last week by the Nigerian foreign affairs ministry, an apparently false claim that sparked a diplomatic spat between the two countries with Morocco recalling its ambassador.

The president has ordered a full investigation into the scandal and has promised to sanction the foreign affairs official who made that claim, a statement from his office said.

Mr. Jonathan was “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,” the statement said.

Diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Morocco worsened Tuesday after the North African country recalled its ambassador from Abuja, following the telephone call row.

The controversy began after Morocco revealed last week that its leader rejected a request from Mr. Jonathan for a conversation.

The Moroccan Foreign Ministry said the request was a devious move by Mr. Jonathan to curry electoral favour than a genuine diplomatic move.

“The request by Nigerian authorities for a phone conversation between HM King Mohammed VI and Nigerian President was refused by the Monarch who deemed it inappropriate on grounds of the upcoming elections in Nigeria,” the statement read.

However, on Monday, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement refuting the claim of the Moroccans.

The Nigerian foreign ministry claimed that King Mohammed IV of Morocco spoke to President Jonathan from France where he had gone for a visit.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also denied that the phone call was intended to confer electoral gains on Mr. Jonathan who faces a crucial electoral challenge from an invigorated opposition in two weeks.

“Since the King was in France and not in Morocco, both leaders spoke extensively over the telephone on matters of mutual interest and concern that have nothing to do with the conduct of re-scheduled elections in Nigeria.

“The King’s Office categorically denies the false allegations made by Nigerian authorities about an alleged phone conversation between the Sovereign and Nigerian President,” the statement said.

A statement signed by Reuben Abati, the spokesperson for Mr. Jonathan, said the furore generated over the matter was due “entirely to misinformation as President Jonathan has neither spoken with King Mohammed nor told anybody that he had a telephone conversation with the Moroccan Monarch”.

“It is true that President Jonathan 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.

Source – Premium times Ng

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