President Goodluck Jonathan has admitted on Friday that he never spoke with the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI via telephone, as claimed last week by Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry, Premium Times reports.
The apparent false claim sparked a diplomatic spat between the two countries with Morocco recalling its ambassador.
The president has ordered a full investigation into the scandal and promised to sanction the foreign affairs official who made the false claim, a statement by presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati.
The president 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 president’s office said.
READ ALSO: Nigeria Lied, Our King Didn’t Talk To Jonathan – Morocco
The controversy began after Morocco revealed last week that its leader rejected a request from Jonathan for a telephone conversation.
The Moroccan Foreign Ministry said the request was a devious move by Jonathan to curry electoral favour than a genuine diplomatic move.
However, on Monday March 9, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement refuting the claim of the Moroccans that King Mohammed IV 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 Jonathan who faces a crucial electoral challenge from an invigorated opposition in two weeks.
The North African nation responded furiously on Tuesday March 10, denying the claim by the Nigerian authorities, and recalling its ambassador from Nigeria.
It issued a statement describing Nigeria’s claim that a discussion took place between King Mohammed and President Jonathan as “unethical practices”.
A statement by Reuben Abati, the spokesperson for the president, 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.
“Since that directive was given, President Jonathan has spoken with the Prime Minister of Algeria and subsequently sent Vice President Namadi Sambo to Algiers as Special Envoy to follow-up on his discussions with the Algerian Prime Minister on support for Nigeria’s candidate in the coming elections for the AfDB Presidency.
“The President has, however, not yet spoken with King Mohammed VI and President Al-Sisi of Egypt as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must know.
The statement said President Jonathan has ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, to urgently undertake a full investigation of the claim which emanated from the Ministry that the President spoke with King Mohammed VI.
“The investigation is to identify all those who were responsible for the unacceptable act of official misinformation which has resulted in an unnecessary diplomatic row with another country and national embarrassment,” the statement said.
“It is also expected to unveil the motives of the culprits.
“President Jonathan has also ordered that prompt and commensurate disciplinary action be taken against the culpable person or persons.
Meanwhile the All Progressives Congress (APC), has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to apologize to Nigerians for the awkwardness that he has caused them over his ghost phone conversation with the King of Morocco.