Police Teargas Ondo Assembly Protesters
Protesters were yesterday teargased by the police as they marched on the House of Assembly in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
They had laid siege to the entrance of the Assembly on Igbatoro Road since Sunday.
The protesters are querying Governor Olusegun Mimiko’s decision to present the 2017 budget and some bills 21 days to the end of his tenure.
They were chased away on Wednesday when news came that the governor would be presenting his administration’s last budget.
The Assembly has been polarised into two factions, led by Malachi Coker and Jumoke Akindele.
Coker’s faction has “hijacked” the Assembly by resuming daily for plenary.
Those in Akindele’s camp, which is loyal to Mimiko have shunned the Assembly.
It was gathered that Mimiko and his aides attempted to enter the Assembly but were prevented by protesters, who allegedly barricaded the road.
The police were said to have fired teargas to disperse them. Many were injured.
The governor drove away immediately.
There was heavy security presence at the Assembly.
Commissioner of Police Mrs Hilda Ibifuro-Harrison entered the complex.
One of the lawmakers, who pleaded for anonymity, said the she asked them to leave but they insisted that they would complete their business before leaving.
A leader of the protesters said: “We usually have our peaceful protest on the Assembly grounds, just like what we had on Wednesday, but surprisingly yesterday, policemen started shooting sporadically and this is uncalled for.
“We believe there is room for peaceful protests as entrenched in our constitution. We believe we have the right to carry out this protest.
“We don’t know why there was shooting in a peaceful protest. We are calling on the Inspector General of Police to look into the matter.
“We have been at the Assembly in the last three days; we didn’t know Governor Mimiko was even coming; we have always been there to protest.
“What we are protesting is the governor’s bill that will bring untold hardship to the people.
“We are harmless. We don’t have enemies; we don’t have guns; we don’t have cutlasses; we don’t have any weapon; so why shoot?”
Police spokesman Femi Joseph denied that live bullets were used to disperse the crowd.
Joseph said the police used tear gas when some of them attempted to attack Mimiko’s convoy.
“We have been diplomatic in our approach to the protesters since they have been around the Assembly.
“But, unfortunately yesterday, they blocked the highway and were approaching the Assembly complex.
“We had to react by using tear gas to disperse them when they attempted to attack the governor’s convoy, “Joseph said.
Civil servants working in the Assembly have been ordered to stay away from work indefinitely.
A statement by the Ondo Assembly chapter of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) in Akure yesterday and signed by its Chairman, Comrade Araulene Felix, said the workers would stay away until an enabling work environment is provided and their security guaranteed.
PASAN noted that its members are civil servants who have nothing to do with the crisis, adding that they are not likely to be recalled until the assault on the paymaster, Comrade Adesina Makanjuola, is addressed.