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Nigerian high commissioners not recalled

SA’s High Commissioner to Nigeria clarified that Abuja did not recalled its two diplomats to South Africa.

FILE: South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mguni, says Nigeria values its relationship with South Africa. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, has clarified that Abuja has not recalled its two diplomats to South Africa, saying they were merely invited to report to cabinet on the recent spate of xenophobic attacks.

Over the weekend, Acting High Commissioner Martin Cobham and the countries consul-general were called home to brief the Nigerian parliament about the welfare of its citizens in South Africa following the attacks in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela described the decision by the Nigerian government as an extraordinary diplomatic step to express outrage at the actions or behaviour of another government.

But Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe says the South African government distances itself from Monyela's comments, describing relations between the continent's two giants as cordial.

Mguni says Nigeria values its relationship with South Africa.

"The minister of foreign affairs said they need to meet with the portfolio on foreign affairs where he explained that relations with South Africa are cordial. They said cannot afford to engage in a situation which will make the two countries move away from each other."

Meanwhile, it has since emerged that Nigeria's permanent secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry has been suspended for the "unauthorised" recall.

Before leaving Pretoria, Cobham told South African officials his recall from Nigeria's Consulate General in Johannesburg reflects Abuja's outrage at the wave of anti-immigrant attacks.

Nigeria's government on Tuesday also backtracked from the tough stance it took.

The country's Foreign Minister Aminu Wali said there are satisfactory indications that this country has taken firm measures to stem the tide of the attacks.