Nigerian lower house moves to offer Gambia’s Jammeh asylum, lawmakers say

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh attends the plenary session of the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island, file. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s lower house voted on Thursday to offer Gambian President Yahya Jammeh asylum if he steps down, lawmakers said.

The House of Representatives approved a motion to authorise President Muhammadu Buhari to offer Jammeh asylum if he handed over power to Adama Barrow, who won Gambia’s Dec 1 elections.

The question of whether Gambia can install Barrow as president is seen as a test case for African democracy in a region accustomed to coups and autocratic rule.

The motion was sponsored by Sani Zorro, a member of the president’s ruling All Progressive Congress party. “We need to strengthen the hands of the president [Buhari] while negotiating,” said Zorro.

However, Nasir Alli – a parliamentarian who opposed the motion – said Nigeria should not be seen to “condone irresponsible behaviour”.

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

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