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Jonathan, Zuma open talks over botched $15m arms deals

 

…Obasanjo, Mbeki move to avert diplomatic impasse
…FG may not release list of those who ferried cash to SA
Following tension over the $15million botched arms deal, President
Goodluck Jonathan and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma have opened up talks to avert diplomatic row.
Also, ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki were said to have stepped into issues surrounding the arms deal.
But there were strong indications that the Federal government will not release the names of those who ferried the $9.3million to South Africa for “strategic security reasons.”
According to a highly-placed source in government, who spoke in confidence, the arms deal was being “treated at the presidential level” to avoid a diplomatic row.
The source said: “The two leaders have discussed extensively in the last one and a half weeks on the arms deal and why the matter had to be handled at the diplomatic level.
“The key point in their talks is that the two nations should not allow the issue to degenerate to a diplomatic row. I can tell you that Jonathan and Zuma have struck some understanding on how to treat the matter
maturely without rubbishing the integrity of any of the two countries.”
Responding to a question, the source added: “The federal government insisted that the deal had nothing to do with fraud or money laundering as being alleged. But it is not opposed to any investigation by the South African Government or agency.
“The South African Government has pledged due process and fairness in managing the ongoing investigation. Certainly Nigeria is interested in having its cash back and this demand might require deeper diplomatic understanding.”
It was however gathered that ex-Presidents Obasanjo and Mbeki have waded into the matter to avert what a source described as “diplomatic impasse.”
Another source said: “Obasanjo and Mbeki who initiated Nigeria-South
Africa Bi-National Commission in 1999 are worried that the arms deal might affect the robust economic relationship between both countries.
“They do not want the situation to degenerate into a diplomatic row because for some time, there had been some distrust between the two nations arising from the disagreement on the late Muammar Ghadaffi; the election of the Chairman of AU Commission; Yellow Fever Vaccine debacle and deportation of Nigerians; the trial of Henry Okah; and the latest arms deal. The two former Presidents have decided to reach out to Jonathan and Zuma any moment from now.”
But there were indications yesterday that the Federal Government is not ready to disclose the identities of the Israeli and Nigerian who ferried the controversial $9.3million cash-for- arms-deal to South Africa.
A security chief said: “For strategic security reasons, we will not disclose the identities of these individuals. Apart from the insurgents being interested in them, some Western countries who lost the arms deal to those we engaged in South Africa might target them for business isolation.
“There is no way a nation will expose those helping it to danger because of ‘crucial arms deal.’ The Anti-Terrorism Act allows the nation’s security agencies to take decisions in the overriding interest of the country.”
Jonathan, Zuma open talks over botched $15m arms deals Reviewed by Jisieike Samuel on October 13, 2014 Rating: 5

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