Nigerian MPs back asylum for Yahya Jammeh

Lower house votes for Nigeria to consider giving asylum to President Jammeh as a way of ending political crisis.

File photo of Gambia''s President Jammeh in Margarita Island
Jammeh has taken legal action against the election result and said he will not step down until his complaint is heard [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

Nigeria’s lower house has voted to offer Gambian President Yahya Jammeh asylum if he steps down, according to Gambian MPs.

The House of Representatives approved a motion on Thursday for President Muhammadu Buhari to offer Jammeh asylum if he hands over power to Adama Barrow, who won The Gambia’s December 1 elections.

The motion is not binding on the government and there was no immediate response from Buhari, who is expected to travel to Banjul on Friday for talks.

READ MORE: Gambia president-elect Adama Barrow talks to Al Jazeera

The MPs said “the clock is ticking fast” for The Gambia and there was a need to step up diplomacy, as the possibility of violence and mass displacement threatened West African stability.

They called on Jammeh to “respect the will of the people” who voted for opposition candidate Adama Barrow in the elections.

Buhari, who is leading the regional diplomatic effort, should “extend Nigeria’s readiness to offer … Jammeh safe haven in Nigeria to live securely as a way of ending the political stalemate in The Gambia”, they added.

‘Violence should be avoided’

Buhari’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, said on Tuesday that “violence should be avoided but nothing is ruled out” by regional bloc ECOWAS to ensure The Gambia’s constitution is upheld.

Jammeh has taken legal action against the election result and said he will not step down until his complaint is heard.

That has raised the prospect of months of political deadlock because The Gambia lacks Supreme Court judges to handle the case.

Nigeria has previously given asylum to a number of African political leaders, including the Liberian rebel-turned-president Charles Taylor.

Buhari is due to travel with other West African leaders to The Gambia on Friday to try to persuade Jammeh to accept the election results, which he has rejected so far.

Inside Story – The Gambia: Is it on a path to turmoil?

Source: News Agencies