There is currently no one representing Zambia at the High Commission in Nigeria. Recalled Deputy High Commission to Nigeria George Mpombo returned without presenting credentials to president Goodluck Jonathan even though he was the acting High Commissioner.
George Mpombo was recalled but the Zambian government has not stated why he was removed.
Foreign Affairs ministry sources tell the Watchdog that the Abuja government is unwilling to receive envoys from Zambia.
The relationship between Zambia and Nigeria started deteriorating in October 2011 just after the current Zambian regime took office.
Nigerian newspapers reported in November 2011 that Nigerians in Zambia were being subjected to unpleasant treatment the direct orders of the then newly-inaugurated President Michael Sata.
According to that country’s media, many Nigerians with valid visa living and doing legitimate business in the southern African country were deported simply for failing to support the Patriotic Front (Sata’s political party) in the run-up to the September 20, 2011 presidential and general elections.
“Among the first to be deported is the Winners Chapel Pastor, Victor Adenedi (Adeniyi), who received a letter directly from immigration authorities to that effect.
“Others include the manager of a bank that advanced for President Rupiah Banda (sic) $1m he used to construct the Mpundu Trust Fund, which police spokesperson Elizabeth Kanjela, claimed to be under investigation.
“Apparently working on instructions from the president, the immigration department has asked the duo to leave the country with immediate effect without giving proper reason
Nigeria’s Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martin Uhuomoibhi, said the Federal Government was aware of the situation and was using diplomatic channels to address the issue.
He said, “Nations respond in their own way to situations that confront them.
“We have very good bilateral relations with that country and we will do everything to keep it so.
“It is like business, there is always a risk in it. So, you take risks. We will normally not do anything that would hurt our diplomatic relations.”
But, despite the Abuja playing this public relations game, that country has not received any High commissioner from the time they recognized Alexis Cadman Luhila under the MMD. The PF cadre who was sent there , Paul Lumbi, was just there for a few moths but never presented credentials to that government.
According to sources, the relationship between Zambia and Nigeria has actually broken down and Zambia fears to send a full High Commissioner there.
Sources say Mpombo was sent to test the waters and as a deputy ambassador.
But, during the few months Mbombo was in Nigeria, he never met the country’s president Goodluck Joanathan.
This means that he was never recognised as deputy High Commissioner by the Federal government of Nigeria.
When he was told to leave UK, Former High Commissioner to UK, B. Nkunika was told that he would be reassigned to Nigeria in the same capacity.
Nkunika is still in Lusaka and from the grapevine; he is about to be arrested for financial l crimes he allegedly committed while working as permanent secretary in the ministry of Works and Supply.
With the long list of PF cadres waiting to be given jobs in the diplomatic service or wherever there is a vacancy, it is unthinkable that the PF can leave the vacancies in Abuja unoccupied.
In July 2012, Zambia went further by excluding Nigeria from African and Commonwealth countries that do not require visa to enter the country.
Ordinarily, Nigerians should obtain Zambian visa at the point of entry into the country but latest development indicate that Zambia authorities have changed their mind on free visa application requirements for Nigerians.
The new law requires that even for just passing through, Nigerians should apply for transit visas from Zambian Missions abroad.