Popular Islamic Movement of Nigeria, members known as Shi’ites, on Tuesday invaded the National Assembly and shot two policemen.
The sect members, who were protesting the continued incarceration of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, that had been in detention since December, 2015, also allegedly attacked six other policemen at the National Assembly with stones and clubs.
It was gathered that the Shiite members overpowered the policemen at the gate of the National Assembly, collected one of their guns and shot the two security operatives.
They entered the main entrance popularly known as MOPOL gate and vandalised the gate house. They also burnt three vehicles and destroyed many others.
The sect unleashed terror on security operatives when tear-gas canisters were thrown to disperse them. There were fears among the National Assembly staff on Tuesday that one of the policemen, who were shot, had died.
But when contacted, the Federal Capital Territory Police spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, said no policeman died during the clash with the IMN members, He said, “We don’t have any casualty, no policeman died. Why would we hide such a thing? There was no casualty.”
He also denied that the IMN members seized a gun from a policeman. He said, “No police gun is missing, we have no record that the Shiite members snatched guns from our men.”
During the protest by the Shiites, there was pandemonium at the National Assembly as its gates were closed. Staff and visitors ran for dear lives during the clash between the sect and the police.
Visitors to the federal parliament were barred from entering the premises as of the time of filing this report.
Once the information filtered into the House of Representatives, which was still in plenary as of the time of the attack, the Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, called for adjournment of the session.
He said, “We have to adjourn now for security and legislative reasons. Leader…” The Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, moved a motion for adjournment, while the Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, seconded the motion.
The Speaker, other leaders and members of the House, after the plenary, visited the victims at the clinic.
While the National Assembly Clinic confirmed that seven persons were injured, most of whom were security men, a security source disclosed that the Divisional Police Officer, National Assembly Division, Mr Umar Sambo, had gunshot, knife cut and stone injuries.
Speaking with journalists, the Director of Medical Services, National Assembly, Dr Bashir Hamza, said seven victims were taken to the clinic, most of whom he said were policemen.
He said, “They were brought here as an emergency. As usual, when patients come like that we don’t have to confirm whether it is a staff member or a visitor; we just first of all rush to save the life.
“That was what had exactly done. As soon as they were brought in, we had doctors on the ground who quickly received them. They were other medical personnel also on the ground who attended to them.
“One of the patients had a cut which looked like knife cut on the head and was bleeding profusely. That was immediately attended to, to stop the bleeding. There was another one with gunshot wound on the left shoulder. It was quickly attended to too.
“In all the cases that we have seen – I think we have seen seven persons with various degrees of injury, we made sure that they were stabilised, with the exception of the first one that I mentioned who has been losing a lot of blood and has started becoming restless.
“In our medical knowledge, we know that people (patients) who start to become restless are getting out of control, probably the bleeding is much higher than we anticipated or there is internal bleeding in the head, because it is appearing (to be) swollen.
“That one is to be transferred to the Trauma Centre of the National Hospital (Abuja). That will be ensured because we have ambulances on the ground, ready for evacuation.
Asked about the profile of the persons attacked, the director said, “The majority are police officers. As we learnt, it was a protest. So, people who would try to go against a protest are usually police officers, except if you are unlucky to (have been) caught up between (them). The majority are police officers.”
Findings by The PUNCH revealed that some of the security personnel who were injured by protesting members of the IMN were admitted to the National Hospital in Abuja.
A source in the hospital said, “The security personnel were seriously injured and were immediately moved to the trauma centre on arrival. The management of the hospital had been placed on the alert before they were brought in. Their cases was emergency because the degree of the injuries was severe. Our team of experts immediately swung into action and they have stabilised.”
The Senate did not suspend plenary while the pandemonium lasted but its ad hoc committee on Media and Publicity addressed journalists on the issue.
The Chairman of the media panel, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, said the Senate was worried about the development and had started discussing the porous security lapses with the National Assembly complex.
He said, “One of the issues we have discussed is the security within the National Assembly premises. It is a matter that is being looked at because parliaments across the world are not this porous.
“Be that as it may, we also recognise the fact that the National Assembly is a public place for all Nigerians. All Nigerians reserve the right if they follow proper channel and procedure to come in here and meet with their representatives.
“Where there are breaches in terms of procedure and regulations guiding such matter, the matter will be looked at inside the chamber.
The FCT police spokesman, in a statement later on Tuesday, said the command had arrested 40 members of the IMN who invaded the National Assembly and shot two policemen and an operative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.