The official, who asked that his name be withheld, said Pretoria had frozen the cash wired to the South African firm’s account. A spokesperson at South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority was not immediately available for comment, but the asset freeze has been widely reported in both Nigerian and South African media. “The issue could affect bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Africa,” the NSA official said. He specifically mentioned MTN – a South African-based mobile phone and Internet provider with tens of millions of subscribers in Nigeria – as a company that could be targeted in a reprisal.
“You cannot be making so much money from Nigeria and then turn around and embarrass the people,” he further said. The official told AFP that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan called his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma to inform him about the purchase and Abuja was therefore surprised to learn that the deal had been blocked. Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj had no comment on the reported conversation between the two leaders, but told AFP “the president is not a part of [the] committee” that reviews arms deals.