Nigerian Air Force says it has deployed men and air assets to forestall breakdown of law and order in Gambia.

Tourists are seen as they board a bus leaving for the airport a day after the country declared a state of emergency, in Banjul, Gambia January 18, 2017.
Tourists are seen as they board a bus leaving for the airport a day after the country declared a state of emergency, in Banjul, Gambia January 18, 2017.

Nigeria has sent 200 soldiers and air assets including fighter jets to Senegal as part of a regional force in case of a need to enforce the result of Gambia's contested election, the country's air force said on Wednesday.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said it had "today moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, light utility helicopter as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Dakar from where it is expected to operate into Gambia".

"The deployment is also to forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia," it added in a statement.

In addition, there are also reports that columns of Senegalese troops also moved to the Gambian border on Wednesday.

"We are heading towards there," one military source in Dakar said. "We are very seriously preparing ourselves."

The development came after President Yahya Jammeh, who has refused to step down, this week declared a 90-day state of emergency which further complicates the prospect of a peaceful transfer of power.

Following an election on December 1, Jammeh initially conceded defeat to opposition leader Adama Barrow but later refused to step down. Jammeh said the state of emergency would prevent a power vacuum while the supreme court decides on his petition challenging opposition leader Adama Barrow's victory.

Barrow was due to be sworn in as president on Thursday, but remains in neighbouring Senegal for his safety.

The 90-day state of emergency forbids Gambian citizens from "any acts of disobedience" or violence and urges security forces to maintain order.

Earlier on Wednesday, Gambia's national assembly adopted a resolution to allow President Jammeh to stay in power for an additional three months.

The National Assembly, in approving the state of emergency, condemned as "unlawful and malicious interference" moves by the African Union's Peace and Security Council to intervene.

The council said the regional body will no longer recognise Jammeh as Gambia's legitimate leader as of Thursday. How Wednesday's resolution will affect this decision is unclear.

People fleeing

People are queuing up at the ferry and bus stations in Banjul, the capital, to flee to towns like Basse and Bansang in Gambia, Guinea, and Casamance in neighbouring Senegal.

One traveller said those arriving at 10 am would have to wait until the following day to board a ferry at Banjul port to cross the river headed for Senegal, unless they bribed officials, due to huge numbers exiting the city.

The UN's refugee agency has said several thousand Gambians have crossed the border in the last few weeks to seek shelter with extended family while they await for Jammeh to hand over power.

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis reports on the latest situation in Gambia.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies