A mild drama ensued on Tuesday at the Senate probe of the November 20 National Assembly invasion by the police when the Divisional Police Officer attached to the federal parliament, James Ndachaba, said the police officers from the FCT command, were not responsible for the tear gas canister thrown at the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
Ndachaba, who stated this while testifying before the Senator Ahmed Makarfi’s ad-hoc committee of the Senate probing the unfortunate development, however, indicted security details attached to Senate President, David Mark, for being responsible for the tear gas canister thrown at the Speaker and his colleagues on November 20.
Curiously, heads of other security and paramilitary agencies attached to the National Assembly, however, disagreed with the position of Ndachaba as they stated that they were not aware of any Mark’s security detail throwing tear gas at Tambuwal.
But the DPO argued that he actually saw Mark’s security detail, whose name he did not mention, through a video recording, perpetrating the act.
The following conversation ensued between the committee chairman and Ndachaba.
Makarfi: You wrote in your written submission that one of the security details of Senate President, David Mark, fired the tear gas. Are you saying that it is not the policemen under your command that fired the tear gas?
Ndachaba: With due respect sir, what I viewed on the screen showed that the police under my command dressed differently from those attached to the Senate President.
Makarfi (cuts in): I want you to be specific are you telling this committee that it is the security personnel of the Senate President that fired the tear gas?
Ndachaba: What I am saying is that the tear-gassing took place when the Senate President attempted to enter the chamber of the House of Representatives and there was a commotion which led to the injury of his aide-de-camp (ADC).
Makarfi (cuts in again): Are you saying that the tear gas was only fired at the entrance of the House of Representatives chambers? Are you saying tear gas was not fired anywhere within the premises of the National Assembly before then?
Ndachaba: I asserted in my report with you sir where I wrote that the tear gas might have exploded when attempt was made to disarm a police officer at the entrance of the main gate.
Makarfi: You are under oath. Here you have put in writing that the tear gas might have been exploded by one of the security details of the Senate President.
Ndachaba: Very well sir, I was not physically there but I saw it on the video clips which was aired by a television station. My submission was based on information and the video clips that I saw. I saw it on the screen.
Makarfi: This is a grievous allegation which you have submitted in writing. I want you to submit a copy of the video clip otherwise we will describe your allegation as hearsay.
It will be recalled that Tambuwal and some federal lawmakers were locked out of the complex on that day after a futile attempt to stop Tambuwal, by firing tear gas canisters at him and his colleagues.
The police had said that it acted on security reports that the National Assembly would be invaded by thugs on the day when lawmakers were to either ratify or reject President Goodluck Jonathan’s extension of emergency rule in the North-East states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
The Senate leadership, after an extensive debate on the issue on the floor, set up a committee led by Makarfi, the chairman of its Finance Committee, to probe the circumstances that led to the invasion and report back in two weeks.
However, more than a week behind schedule, Makarfi commenced investigation into the police invasion on Monday.