- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nigeria is miffed at U.S. criticism of its president after he pardoned a politician convicted of corruption and of the Nigerian army’s response to terrorist attacks in the oil-rich West African nation.

Nigerian Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye said his government was surprised by comments posted on the Twitter account of the U.S. Embassy in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, after President Goodluck Jonathan pardoned Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of the southern state of Bayelsa.

Mr. Adefuye, writing on the Nigerian Embassy website in Washington this week, complained that U.S. diplomats acted unprofessionally by using social media to criticize Mr. Jonathan’s actions.

“There are clearly more internationally acceptable practices of conveying impressions rather than through Twitter,” he said.

In Nigeria, the Foreign Ministry complained to James P. McAnulty, the deputy chief of mission, over two tweets posted Friday on the U.S. Embassy website after Mr. Jonathan had pardoned several convicts, including Mr. Alamieyeseigha.

“We see this as a setback in the fight against corruption,” one tweet said. The other noted that Washington is “deeply disappointed over the recent pardons of corrupt officials.”

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement criticizing the U.S. for “undue interference and meddlesomeness.”

“The ministry finally expressed the hope that the Embassy of the United States of America would henceforth desist from making unwarranted comments on Nigeria’s internal affairs, which are capable of undermining the friendly relations that exist between them,” the statement said.

Nigeria also was surprised by comments from U.S. Ambassador Terence P. McCulley, who noted that terrorists in nearby Mali continue to move freely throughout the region and contribute to attacks by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

“The government of Nigeria clearly needs to address this issue with what we call a multipronged approach that focuses generally on the security threat that Boko Haram represents,” he told reporters last week in a telephone conference call.

Mr. McCulley also urged the Nigerian government to “respect human rights” when fighting the terrorists, who have been accused of killing thousands of people since the group was founded in 2001. Civil rights activists have complained that the army detains, tortures and kills people suspected of having ties to the terrorists.

The Nigerian Foreign Ministry on Monday asked Mr. McCulley to explain his comments but insisted relations with the United States remain cordial.

However, a ministry source told Nigeria’s Nation newspaper that the government privately is upset by the ambassador’s critique.

“It was shocking to the government for the ambassador to have faulted our approach to the Boko Haram crisis,” he said.


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