Protesting members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria on Wednesday stormed the National Assembly, Abuja, forcing the House of Representatives to end its plenary abruptly.
Chanting solidarity songs and demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakyzaky, the Shi’ite members forcibly entered the NASS complex after overwhelming the security operatives at the gate.
Following the incident, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun, announced that the Shi’ite protesters had gained entry into the NASS premises and adjourned the sitting. The lawmakers subsequently left the chambers.
Lasun, who was presiding over the consideration of committee reports, said he had the information that the sect members had crashed the first gate and were gaining entry into the premises.
The Deputy Speaker asked the sergeant-at-arms to go out and confirm the report. The security official, who returned to the chambers, reported that it was safe to continue the sitting. He said the protesters had been prevented from entering the complex.
The lawmakers shortly after, stepped down the remaining items on the Order Paper to Thursday. It could not be confirmed if the adjournment was as a result of the protests.
After the alleged invasion, it was observed that though the protesters made attempts to gain entry into the premises, they were prevented by the combined team of security operatives who manned the gate.
It was gathered that the IMN members were initially peaceful but tension heightened when the policemen locked the first gate and attempted to prevent them from accessing the complex.
Some of the protesters reportedly massed at the gate, shaking it vigorously while the outnumbered policemen withdrew from the scene.
After shaking the gate for some minutes, the protesters succeeded in forcing it open.
The massive crowd of men, youths and women dressed in black surged into the NASS complex causing panic among visitors and lawmakers as they chanted Allahu Akbar.
However, the crowd did not advance into the chambers following appeals from their leaders.
Members of the IMN have held regular protests to demand the release of their leader and his wife who had been in custody since December 2015 following a bloody confrontation with soldiers in Kaduna during which hundreds of IMN members were killed.
The leader of the sect is currently facing trial for alleged “culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of public peace.”
The acting spokesman for the FCT Police Command, Danjuma Gajere, said the police were able to control the protest which he said involved over 2,000 Shi’ite members, adding that no arrest was made.
He said, “We were able to manage the protest which involved over 2,000 people, but there was no arrest.”