The Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, on Wednesday declared that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, no longer occupies his seat after defecting from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to All Progressives Congress, APC.
The police boss made the blunt comments as he appeared before the House committee investigating the invasion of the National Assembly by police last Thursday.
The committee invited the IG to explain the barricade of National Assembly which led to chaos as some lawmakers scaled the fence to gain entrance.
At the meeting, Abba pointedly refused to address Tambuwal as speaker, triggering angry responses from members of the committee.
The IG referred to the speaker as “Alhaji Tambuwal”and when confronted by lawmakers, the police boss said he would not comment further on the case since it is before a court.
He accused Tambuwal of leading a band of “thugs” to invade the National Assembly and assault police officers on duty, arguing that security was strengthened around the National Assembly on Thursday to prevent likely invasion of the premises by political thugs.
Abba said there was credible information that the National Assembly was going to be penetrated. “The police high command directed the Commissioner of Police, FCT, to strengthen the security arrangement in the assembly, the police headquarters and the INEC headquarters,” he said.
“In the process of safeguarding the security of the National Assembly on the 20th of November, we collaborated with the National Assembly Sergeant-at-Arm according to laid down procedures.
“Members were being asked to identify themselves before they could be allowed into the premises.
“The invasion of the National Assembly by large number of suspected thugs caused a reinforcement at the second gate.
“We saw how security at that gate was compromised and we are investigating the issue of teargas thrown at people,” the IGP said.
The police boss said officers were “physically beaten, disobeyed and many other things” and told the lawmakers his decision to order a siege on the assembly was in support of democracy.
“From the day I was appointed acting Inspector General of Police, in my maiden speech I made a pledge that policing all over the world has gone beyond the issue of arresting suspected criminals, investigating and prosecuting offenders.
“Policing worldwide and Nigeria inclusive, which I pledge to be part of, now include the support of the development of democracy,” he said.
“I want to state that that pledge was not just for the words, I meant it. Since then all my effort has been in that direction in addition to other responsibility on my shoulder.
“2015 elections are around the corner and political activities and politicking has heightened. As a result of that, I discussed with my colleagues and told them that we should make all efforts to make our election credible and peaceful.
“In the last meeting we had two weeks ago, I told them to be focused on efforts that will enable the police control the activities of political thugs and to mop up arms.
“I told them to do everything within the limit of the provision of the law to ensure that people do not take laws into their hands, so that we can have credible and safe conduct of the 2015 elections.”
He said the invasion of the assembly was partly in response to an earlier threat by the APC to cause mayhem in Abuja.
“On the 19th of November, members of a political party including their leaders and a serving Governor conducted a rally at the Eagle square.
“They proceeded in a procession to the headquarters of the Nigeria Police and made uncomplimentary statements among which was the fact that what they were doing that afternoon was just a tip of the iceberg of what they will be doing in subsequent days,” he said.
“They promised to come back on the 20th to continue the procession with the blockage of the police headquarters, and even promising to extend to other areas including the National Assembly and the headquarters of INEC.
“Bearing in mind what happened in the parliament in Burkina Faso on 30th October 2014, security was strengthened and it included that the operational procedures of the security of the National Assembly, must be complied with.
“That is why the arrangement of self-identification were made for members to identify themselves, and that went around and some of the principal officers of the National Assembly complied and that went on.
“Until when that was disrupted on the arrival of Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal. With the disruption of the arrangement by quite a number of suspected thugs, the second gate was not only closed but reinforcement.
He said the teargas fired by police merely “exploded”. “And to answer to the teargas, yes. Unfortunately, the tear gas exploded outside the gate and that is being investigated, the circumstances is being investigated.
“We saw how security arrangement at that gate was compromised and we saw how people we suspect to be thugs crossed the fence and that resulted in the unfortunate incident where tear gas exploded,” the police chief said.