Thursday, November 20, 2014 2:28 pm
Nigeria’s police spokesman, Emmanuel Ojukwu has denied that the police fired several teargas canisters into the premises of the National Assembly on Thursday.
In an interview with a foreign news agency, Ojukwu posted the denial, saying the police were not part of the pandemonium that occurred there.
Teargas was fired into the Assembly today by policemen and DSS operatives as opposition lawmakers, including the speaker of the lower house, arrived for a key vote on emergency rule in the northeast.
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 eye 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 Thursday on President Goodluck Jonathan’s request to extend the state of emergency in the northeast region hit hardest by Boko Haram.
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 have 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 as they tried to enter the gate outside the parliament buildings.
The lawmakers managed to enter the gate and headed toward the main lobby of the parliament building, he said, adding: “Police fired teargas again.”
An AFP reporter said the lobby was still filled with teargas several minutes after Tambuwal’s arrival.
Senate president Mark said: “Because of the very unfortunate incident that has happened in the National Assembly this morning, I have decided that I will shut down the National Assembly until Tuesday next week.”
Mark, who is a PDP stalwart, said there would be no vote Thursday on Jonathan’s request to extend emergency rule.