Mark shuts NASS as Tambuwal is barred from entering complex

TambuwalSenate President, David Mark, has ordered the closure of the National Assembly (NASS) complex till Tuesday, 25th November, following a siege by security men.

Policemen and Department of State Security (DSS) operatives fired teargas inside the parliament complex on Thursday, apparently trying to block opposition lawmakers, including Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, from entering the building for a key security vote.

Tambuwal defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) in October.

Members of the House had been scheduled to vote on a government request to extend emergency rule in the northeast region hit hardest by Boko Haram militants.

The opposition has said it was against the move, and political tensions have been ratcheted up ahead of elections scheduled for February.

Mark, a PDP stalwart, ordered the immediate closure of both chambers over the incident.

The focus of the police aggression appeared to be lower House Speaker, Tambuwal, whose defection to the opposition last month outraged the ruling PDP.

The PDP has tried to remove Tambuwal from the speaker’s chair and stripped him of his security aides.

President Goodluck Jonathan has said the extension is needed to sustain the military offensive against Boko Haram.

But APC has described the strategy as a complete failure, noting the huge Islamist gains since emergency rule was first imposed in May 2013.

Tambuwal’s Spokesman, Imam, said his was moving in a convoy with more than 40 other lawmakers, which police repeatedly tried to stop as they approached the main gate of parliament.

The convoy pressed through several police barricades before officers locked the gate that leads into the parliament complex, he added.

Lawmakers began pushing aggressively on the bars to force their way through, with police looking on from the other side, footage on the private Channels television station showed.

Several scaled the gate and then walked with Tambuwal towards the legislative building, the footage showed.

“As soon as we got (to parliament), they insisted he will not enter the chamber,” Imam told AFP.

“It was in that midst of confusion that they now used the tear gas on the speaker” and other lawmakers, he added.