Zambia has excluded Nigeria among the 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.
The move by Zambia seems to stem from an incident in December last year when Nigerian businessmen were deported on the orders of then new president Michael Sata for allegedly supporting the then ruling party MMD.
The country said in its website that Nigerian nationals and some others going to Zambia as private/ business visitors or in transit shall apply for visas at Zambian Missions abroad.
The statement on the Zambia Immigration website reads:
‘Nationals of all Commonwealth countries do not require visas to enter Zambia EXCEPT for those nationals from Australia, Britain, Canada, Gambia, Ghana, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sierra-Leone, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Sri-Lanka who need visas on a reciprocal basis’
This has always been the case with all the countries except Nigeria which was included to the list last month.
The change in visa requirement came to public notice when some Nigerian journalists failed to travel to Zambia for the CNNMultiChoice media wards held in Lusaka.
On realizing the Zambian stance on Nigeria, some delegates and officials including the Editor of Daily Independent, Ikechukwu Amaechi billed to attend the CNN/MultiChoice 2012 African Journalist award held in that country for the first time last weekend and who did not start their visa application early stayed back.
It remains to see how the Nigerian government reacts.
Few months ago, South Africa deported some Nigerians on the excuse of fake yellow fever documents. Nigeria retaliated blocking all South Africans from entering Nigeria. South Africa apologised and the situation was normalised.
On December 23, 2011, the federal government of Nigeria says it was using the appropriate diplomatic channels to avert a crisis, which may result between Nigeria and Zambia as a result of the “unfair” deportation of some Nigerians from Zambia
A Zambia newspaper, Daily Nation in its December 15, 2011 edition had reported that some prosperous Nigerians who are legal residents of the country were deported allegedly on the orders of newly inaugurated President Michael Sata for having supported his opponents in September 2011 general elections.
ThisDay newspaper reports that the Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi said the Nigerian government was already aware of the matter and was taking advantage of the fact that a good relation exists between the two nations to resolve the matter.
He expressed hope that Zambia would not do anything to jeopardise its relationship with Nigeria.
“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,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary was speaking at a press briefing in Abuja, Nigeria.
Already, a couple of Nigerians notable a Pastor of the Winner’s Chapel in Zambia, Victor Adeniyi and a bank manager (name withheld) have been deported for frivolous reasons.
The ‘offence’ committed by the bank manager was that he gave an advance of $1m to former president President Rupiah Banda which he used to establish a fund which is now under investigation. Adeniyi was also supporter of Banda.