YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
FORMER Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday visited incarcerated United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema at Mukobeko Maximum Security Facility in Kabwe.
Mr Obasanjo, who arrived in the country yesterday, also held private talks with President Lungu at State House after which he was allowed to visit Mr Hichilema.
Special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda told journalists that Mr Obasanjo requested to meet President Lungu, who graciously agreed.
“Mr Obasanjo and President Lungu held confident ial discussions and he [Mr Obasanjo] was telling the President what he is doing in his retirement, his call for peace, his campaign against polio and a number of issues in his role as a retired statesman,” he said.
Mr Chanda said Mr Obasanjo also requested to meet Mr Hichilema and that President Lungu facilitated the former statesman’s travel to Mukobeko.
President Lungu directed the chief of protocol and Zambia Air Force (ZAF) to foresee the movement of Mr Obasanjo to meet the opposition leader.
“So Mr Obasanjo will be taken to Mukobeko right now [yesterday] by ZAF and the prison authorities have been told to quickly facilitate because it came at short notice and so we have had to request permanent secretary in Ministry of Home Affairs Chileshe Mulenga to work with the chief of protocol.
“After that visit, Mr Obasanjo has requested that he again meets President Lungu in due course and that will be done,” Mr Chanda said.
And in Kabwe, a Zambia Air Force helicopter carrying Mr Obasanjo landed at Bethwall Imakando Staff Training College around 12:21 hours and left around 14:38 hours, reports CHAMBO NGUNI.
Zambia Correctional Service commissioner-general Percy Chato also confirmed Mr Obasanjo’s visit to Mr Hichilema.
Mr Chato said he did not know what Mr Obasanjo’s visit was all about and he did not know who was accompanying him.
The media was not allowed entry into the correctional facility.
Last month, Zambia Council of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) president Telesphore Mpundu, his deputy Alick Banda of Ndola and Raymond Mpezele of Livingstone met Mr Hichilema at Mukobeko to discuss the need for dialogue and national reconciliation.
The clergymen held a closed-door meeting with Mr Hichilema for two hours 30 minutes.
Their meeting came after they had one with President Lungu at State House on July 14, 2017, at which they made a request to meet the UPND leader.
Mr Hichilema is being prosecuted for treason.