Senate President David Mark shut down the national assembly, postponing debate on a bill to extend a state of emergency in three states hit by insurgency, after the chaos erupted.
“After a due consultation with my colleagues in both chambers of National Assembly on this ugly development we have therefore agreed that today’s session be suspended forthwith,” Senate President David Mark said, adding that the assembly will reconvene on Tuesday.
Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is battling a currency crisis exacerbated by falling global oil prices, as well as the Islamist insurgency in three northeastern states.
Parliament was convening for the first time since Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, whose post is the fourth most powerful in the country, switched political sides before presidential elections in February to join the opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Reuters reporters saw some lawmakers from the opposition All People’s Congress scaling the wall and gate of the assembly as they tried to force a way in for Tambuwal, while the police and a few soldiers prevented them.
Pandemonium broke out as hooded policemen entered the main lobby of the assembly and fired tear gas.
The election is expected to be messy and closely fought. Jonathan announced last week that he will seek a second term. The APC has yet to choose a challenger.
Tambuwal was seen as a potential APC candidate in an already crowded field that includes former President Muhammadu Buhari and ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar. However, Tambuwal said in on Tuesday that he would not contest the presidential race and would back the eventual APC candidate.