A disgruntled former taxi driver from Cringila who sparked a siege outside NSW Parliament was rushed and overwhelmed by police when he looked set to torch himself and his car.
Abdula Ganiji drove his white Chrysler sedan onto the footpath outside the parliament on Macquarie Street at about 11.40am on Friday.
Police were called following reports by parliamentary guards he was acting suspiciously in the car.
A large part of the street was quickly cordoned off and MPs and staff in parliament house were warned to keep clear of the front of the building.
For more than two hours, the 58-year-old from the Wollongong area passed lists of demands from inside the car to plain-clothes police negotiators.
Hundreds of city workers gathered at the police cordon and parliament went into partial lockdown, before the siege ended dramatically just before 2pm.
There were loud bangs and flashes as up to a dozen heavily armed tactical officers swarmed the vehicle, smashing the car’s windows and firing a canister of gas inside before dragging Mr Ganiji into custody.
Police later said he had made threats of self harm, was known to police and was a regular visitor at parliament. After he was handcuffed and dragged off for medical checks, police officers and firefighters removed a device from the car before conducting tests on the vehicle.
NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch told reporters the man had a container of flammable liquid, understood to be petrol, which he was threatening to set alight.
Mr Murdoch praised the quick actions of police.
‘‘When that man attempted to light a cigarette lighter, wind the windows of the car up with what we believe to be a container of flammable liquid in the vehicle, those officers put their lives on the line this afternoon and they resolved the situation in a peaceful manner,’’ he said.
‘‘The mere fact we’re in front of our state parliament, in the middle of Sydney in the middle of the day – certainly that posed a risk,’’ Mr Murdoch said.
Mr Murdoch could not confirm reports the man had sought a meeting with Premier Barry O’Farrell, who stayed inside parliament throughout.
‘‘He was making certain demands of the police but we weren’t in a position to meet those demands, nor were we ever in a position to entertain them,’’ he said.
Mr Ganiji last year staged a hunger strike for several days outside parliament about a $200 fine he received 15 years ago.
He had called on Mr O’Farrell to solve a dispute with his employer, Wollongong Radio Cabs. Mr Ganiji told the Mercury last year he was fined by the company for misusing his taxi radio by clicking the buttons unnecessarily, causing problems on the communications network. AAP