Video Shows Tear Gas Fired in Nigerian Parliament in Chaotic Scenes Over Defected Politician

Security officials attempted to bar the house speaker from entering the assembly building ahead of a debate to extend the state of emergency in Nigeria.

by Kayla Ruble
Nov 20 2014, 8:05pm

Photo by Shiraz Chakera

A parliamentary session in Nigeria unfolded into chaos today as security officers fired tear gas in the National Assembly complex, barring a party-swapping politician from entering the premises, as lawmakers were set to debate an extension to the country's current state of emergency.

With presidential elections set for February, House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Tambuwal recently left the ruling People's Democratic Party and defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress party. Thursday's session was to be his first parliament meeting since the move. According to Reuters, Tambuwal had at one point been talked about as a presidential candidate, but he shut down that possibility on Tuesday.

As security officers barred Tambuwal and other opposition members from entering the assembly today, video footage shows some dashiki-clad politicians trying to push their way in by scaling over gates within the complex.

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Video via YouTube/Premium Times

Reports indicate that tear gas was fired following these attempts, apparently after candidate Tambuwal's security team clashed with the officers. Police officers launched tear gas at the parliamentarians inside the building's lobby, Reuters reported.

Video shows dozens of parliament members and staff, wearing suits and dashikis, rushing around in disarray inside the complex with tear gas streaming from outside steps, then someone can be heard yelling: "This is totally bad." The individual recording the video can be heard coughing as he pushes his way into a tumultuous scene inside the lobby of the assembly building. Politicians are heard yelling and attempting to make their way into an assembly room.

According to the BBC, the parliament was shut down by the Senate's president David Mark following the altercation.

The bill planned for discussion was requested by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and would have extended the state of emergency for three states in the northeastern part of the country. Terrorist group Boko Haram has maintained a heavy presence in this region during an ongoing insurgency that has spanned five years. A previous extension for the state of emergency orders had been approved in May.

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Image via Wikipedia