Abuja (AFP) - Nigeria on Wednesday accused South Africa of blocking a legal arms purchase and threatened retaliation against major South African companies, including telecom giant MTN, if the spat is not resolved. A top official in the office of Nigeria's National Security Advisor (NSA) told AFP that the country had an agreement to buy $5.7 million (4.5 million euros) worth of military hardware in a deal brokered by a South African firm.
The official, who asked that his name be withheld, said Pretoria had frozen cash that had been wired to the South African firm's account. South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority made no immediate 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 Africa-based mobile phone and Internet provider with tens of millions of subscribers in Nigeria -- as a company that could be targeted in tit-for-tat reprisals.
"You cannot be making so much money from Nigeria and then turn around and embarrass the people," the Nigerian official said.