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MPs brawl in parliament over splinter group visit

18 September 2013, 06:35

Lagos - Lawmakers in the Lower House exchanged blows on Tuesday over the presence in parliament of a splinter group of the ruling party, according to local television.

The private African Independent Television and Channels TV showed footage of a female member of parliament angrily poking her finger in the face of a colleague while a male legislator was seen grabbing a chair in an attempt to hit a fellow lawmaker.

Other lawmakers engaged in fisticuffs.

The row was apparently sparked by the visit of Kawu Baraje, the chairman of a dissident faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and several state governors loyal to him.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, told MPs that Baraje had requested permission to address supporters during parliament's opening session.

But the group's presence so infuriated parliamentarians belonging to the main PDP that a noisy brawl ensued between the two sides, leaving Baraje to read out his address over the shouts of the arguing lawmakers.

The PDP controls 23 of the 36 states in Nigeria.

The party, which has controlled Nigeria's presidency since a return to civilian rule in 1999, has found itself in unfamiliar territory recently, rocked by infighting and facing a stronger opposition.

General elections are scheduled for 2015 and whether the party can iron out its differences and fend off the opposition will have huge implications for Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.

The rift had been in the making for months, with factions within the party opposed to President Goodluck Jonathan's re-election and several members believed to be plotting their own run.



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