Nigeria’s lower chamber of parliament on Thursday asked the country’s President Muhammadu Buhari to consider offering asylum to President Yahya Jammeh to resolve the political crisis in The Gambia.
Mr. Jammeh has refused to leave office despite losing December’s presidential election to opposition candidate Adama Barrow.
Mr. Buhari and other West African leaders will be in Gambia on Friday to persuade Mr. Jammeh to leave office and ensure Mr. Barrow is sworn in on January 19 as constitutionally required.
It was reported how the Nigerian government is also preparing a military force that could join those of other West African ECOWAS countries to force Mr. Jammeh out of power should he decline to leave peacefully.
On Thursday, Nigeria’s House of Representatives called on the Federal Government to consider asylum for Mr. Jammeh, who is believed to be holding on to power because he is scared of being tried for the various human right abuses he committed in his 22 years in power.
The House, however, advised Mr. Jammeh to respect the wish of the citizens of the country, who voted against him in the recent presidential election.
It expressed support for the President Buhari-led diplomatic negotiations at stabilising Gambia as the country grappled with political crisis resulting from the poll.
The House also said that it was in solidarity with the parliament and people of Gambia on the development, following Mr. Jammeh’s refusal to accept the result of the election, which he lost.
The resolutions of the lawmakers followed a motion by Sani Zorro (APC-Jigawa) which was adopted by members through a majority voice vote.
Moving the motion, Mr. Zorro had said that the clock was ticking fast for the survival of democracy in Gambia and that there was the need to intensify preventive diplomacy to save the country.
According to him, Nigeria’s past leadership has played roles in restoring peace and settling conflicts in various Southern and West Africa nations, including Congo, Chad and Liberia.
He said that Nigeria’s policy of extending safe haven to endangered African leaders had been part of the nation’s dispute settlement.
Mr. Zorro added that such gesture was extended to President Felix Malloun of Chad, Charles Taylor and Yomi Johnson, both of Liberia and others.
Supporting the motion, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (PDP- Abia) said granting asylum to the embattled Gambian leader was in consonance with Nigeria’s foreign policy thrust.
In his contribution, Mojeed Alabi (APC-Osun) noted that before considering asylum for Mr. Jammeh, Nigerians should be educated on the development and the need to accord him such favour.
However, opposing the motion, Obinna Chidoka (PDP-Anambra) argued that the house would be ”jumping the gun” by calling for asylum for Mr. Jammeh in Nigeria.
Mr. Chidoka recalled that “there was a credible election in The Gambia and the opposition candidate, Adams Barrow, won and was congratulated by the incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, who also conceded defeat”.
Also kicking against the motion, Nasiru Umar (APC-Kano) cautioned that the house should not take a decision that would suggest that the nation was supporting dictators.
“We should not be giving wrong signals to dictators that after misruling their countries, they will find a safe haven in Nigeria,” he warned.
Similarly, Pally Iriase (APC-Edo) warned that though the intention of the motion was good, the house should thread with caution.
After the debate, the house resolved to urge the government to consider asylum for Jammeh and mandated its committees on Foreign Affairs and Legislative Compliance, respectively, to ensure implementation.