President Goodluck Jonathan has wielded the big stick on the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Danjuma Sheni, over his alleged role in the controversy over the invitation of Nigeria’s envoys from South Africa.
The President, according to an aide, who sought anonymity, Sheni has been placed on suspension after he was queried by the Head of Service of the Federation, Danladi Kifasi, on the order of President Jonathan.
It was reported over the weekend that Nigeria had recalled its envoys from South Africa over the xenophobic attacks in the country.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, had in an interview with State House correspondents on Monday, said there was no truth in the report that Nigerian envoys in South Africa had been recalled.
Abati had explained that the true situation was that the country’s Charge D’Affairs was invited for consultation.
The source said Sheni’s offence was that he did not get clearance from the President before inviting the country’s Charge D’Affairs in South Africa for consultation.
He said the President felt embarrassed for the second time in a few weeks after the diplomatic row between Nigeria and Morocco over whether he indeed spoke with King Mohammed VI as claimed by the ministry.
The presidential aide said but for civil service rule, Sheni would have been dismissed.
He said: “The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been suspended and queried for embarrassing the President by not clearing from him before inviting the Charge D’Affairs.
“The President on Monday directed the Head of Service to query him and he has 24 hours to respond to the query.
“You will recall that that was the second embarrassment, this one coming shortly after the Morocco saga.
“The permanent secretary was to be dismissed immediately but for the civil service rule. Even at that, there will still be further consequence.
“His offence is that he invited the Charge D’Affairs without clearance from the President. The truth is that in this age and time, the ministry can make clarification from the Charge D’Affairs without necessarily inviting him. There is what is called diplomatic dispatches. They can also speak with the envoy on the telephone.
“As at now, a new permanent secretary has been redeployed to the ministry to replace him,” he said.


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