Nigeria to Offer Gambian President Yahya Jammeh Asylum If He Steps Down

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has voted to offer Gambian President Yahya Jammeh asylum, provided he agrees to step down on January 19 when his tenure ends.

The motion was made by a lawmaker who chairs the committee on refugees. According to Mohammed Sani Zorro and the majority who share his view, granting Jammeh asylum will be in the interest of peace efforts in the tiny West African country.

Representatives who spoke against the motion were of the view that it would send the wrong signal and set an unhealthy precedent for other autocrats across the continent.

They affirmed their support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediation efforts and also called on Jammeh to “respect the will of the people,” who voted for opposition candidate Adama Barrow in the December 1 election.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who heads the ECOWAS mediation, should consider “offering outgoing President Yahya Jammeh a safe haven in Nigeria to live securely as a way to end the political stalemate in the Gambia,” they added.

The motion, however, does not bind the government and did not prompt an immediate response from Buhari, who is expected to visit Banjul on Friday for talks with Jammeh.

Jammeh had initially accepted the outcome of the polls only to reverse his stance, citing irregularities as admitted by the electoral body. In a recent address, he vowed to challenge the results in court and warned that he would not concede power until his complaint was heard by the Supreme Court.

The high court was seat a bench to listen to the petition by Jammeh’s party. The Chief Justice said the parties had to wait till May to get judges to sit on the case.

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