Standoff cabbie stays locked up

By Sue McPherson

58-year-old had fuel and cigarette lighter in his car, NSW magistrate hears

Armed police subdue Abdula Ganiji after they had rushed his car and dragged him out outside the New South Wales state Parliament in central Sydney. Photo / AP
Armed police subdue Abdula Ganiji after they had rushed his car and dragged him out outside the New South Wales state Parliament in central Sydney. Photo / AP

A disgruntled former taxi driver who sparked a two-hour standoff outside the New South Wales state parliament will remain behind bars after being refused bail.

Abdula Ganiji caused a lockdown of Macquarie St in central Sydney when he drove his white car on to the footpath outside the parliamentary complex on Friday.

A police officer sprays tear gas into the vehicle to end the protest. Photo / AP
A police officer sprays tear gas into the vehicle to end the protest. Photo / AP

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.

The drama ended dramatically just before 2pm when up to a dozen heavily armed tactical officers swarmed the vehicle, fired a canister of gas inside and dragged Ganiji into custody.

He was charged with threatening sabotage, possessing an explosive device to damage property and threatening to destroy or damage property.

Yesterday, a Parramatta court heard that a 2-litre fruit juice container, fuel and a cigarette lighter were found in Ganiji's car.

Defence lawyer Jane Healey didn't apply for bail on her client's behalf, and it was formally refused by Magistrate Allan Moore.

Moore told Healey he would be sympathetic to a bail application "if I had some psychiatric material before me".

"We certainly need a risk assessment and report," he added.

Healey cited reported comments from Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Murdoch that Ganiji's actions posed no risk to the public.

She also told the court Ganiji had been seeing a mental-health professional for years.

Ganiji is taken away. Photo / AP
Ganiji is taken away. Photo / AP

The magistrate said community safety was an issue in deciding a bail application.

Ganiji, who appeared via audio-visual link, showed little emotion during the hearing.

The case was adjourned to Sydney Central Local Court on January 6.

Last year, Ganiji staged a hunger strike for days outside Parliament over a A$200 ($218) fine he received 15 years ago.

He had called on New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell to resolve a dispute with his former employer, Wollongong Radio Cabs.

- AAP

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