Teargas fired at parliamentarians
ABUJA: Nigerian security forces fired teargas inside the parliament complex yesterday as opposition lawmakers, including the Speaker of the lower House, arrived for a key vote on emergency rule in the north-east.
The leader of the Senate, David Mark, later ordered the immediate closure of both chambers until next week over the incident.
Multiple reports, including from witnesses, indicated that security agents tried to block House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, who defected to the opposition last month, from entering the building.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has tried to remove Tambuwal from the Speaker’s chair since his defection and stripped him of his security detail.
Lawmakers had been scheduled to vote yesterday on President Goodluck Jonathan’s request to extend the state of emergency in the north-east region hit hardest by Boko Haram insurgents.
Members of Tambuwal’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party have described the state of emergency first imposed in May last year as a failure because of escalating violence, and argued it should not be renewed.
A witness, who works at parliament but requested anonymity, said police first fired teargas as Tambuwal and other APC lawmakers tried to enter the gate outside the parliament buildings.
The lawmakers managed to enter the gate and headed toward the main lobby, he said, adding: “Police fired teargas again.”
Police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu denied that police officers were involved.
Senate president Mark said: “Because of the very unfortunate incident… I have decided that I will shut down the National Assembly until Tuesday.” Mark, who is a PDP stalwart, said there would no vote yesterday on Jonathan’s request to extend emergency rule. – Sapa-AFP