Molly KILETE, and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Newspapers vendors in Abuja, embarked on a peaceful protest Friday over the killing of one their members, Ifeanyi Elechi, who was shot dead by a security aide attached to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Elechi was said to have met his untimely death when he along his colleagues gathered around the convoy of the speaker who they said used to dash them money anytime he passes by them at the Shehu Shagari Way, in the Three Arms Zone.
He was shot on the head at close range and rushed to the national hospital, Abuja where he died.
The vendors who carried placards bearing various inscriptions demanded for justice. They said the overzealous security aide said to be a personnel of the Department of State Services(DSS),must be made to face the law.
The Chairman of the Newspapers Vendors Association in FCT, Etim Eteng, who spoke to journalists during the protest, said the association would not allow the matter to be swept under the carpet as the vendor’s death was not as a result of accidental discharge or stray bullets. He said the unidentified security officer shot Elechi at close range in the full glare of motorists and passersby.
According to him, “We are gathered here today to demand justice for Elechi who was killed extra-judicially. Extrajudicial killing means the killing of an individual by a security operative without judicial proceedings and this is what has happened.” Eteng said “The overzealous security operative who killed Elechi must be brought to book; he must face the wrath of the law. We know that over time, judicial killings have been swept under the carpet but this time, the death of this innocent man who left his wife and new-born baby to look for his daily bread and was killed by an aide to the Speaker of the House of Reps must be probed and the killer brought to book.”
Worried by the gruesome act, the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has issued a statement expressing regrets over the dastardly act and announced the immediate suspension of the suspect. Gbajabiamila, who said he was not aware of the incident until much later, said he was sad by the killing.
Meanwhile, the FCT police command said it has commenced investigation into the shooting. The Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, who made this known, also debunked rumors making the rounds that the killer was a police officer.
Chiroma in a statement signed by the command public relations officer, Mariam Yusuf said: “Contrary to the misleading information, a preliminary investigation into the unfortunate incident reveals that the security aide who shot at the vendor is not a member of the Nigeria Police Force.
“However, the Commissioner of Police FCT, Bala Ciroma has ordered a discreet investigation into the incident. While commiserating with the family and friends of the deceased, the Commissioner of Police wishes to guarantee members of the public that the command will be lucid in its investigation and ensure the findings are made public.”
Meanwhile, Speaker of the House of Representatives has said the security operative, attached to his convoy, who shot a vendor, Ifeanyi Okereke, dead, on Thursday, in Abuja, has been identified.
Gbajabiamila, who stated this in a statement, yesterday, gave the name of the security operative as Abdullahi M. Hassan. He added that Hassan has been handed over to the Department of State Security for investigation and appropriate judicial action.
The speaker noted that he is committed to ensuring that the late Okereke’s family gets justice, so that their bereavement is not compounded by “any actions that can cause them further pain and suffering.”
Gbajabiamila, while promising to support the late vendor’s widow and immediate family, said he has arranged to meet with his parents, who are their way to Abuja, as soon as they arrive.
The statement read:”The unfortunate death of Mr Ifeanyi Okereke at the hands of one of my security aides has left me deeply shaken.
“Mr Okereke was a citizen going about his business, trying to make a living for himself and his family. There is no reason for his life to have ended the way it did.
“This morning, I have handed over the security operative, Abdullahi M. Hassan, to the Department of State Security (DSS) for investigation and appropriate administrative and judicial action. In the interim, he has been suspended from the convoy.
“I expect, and I will see to it that the family of Mr Ifeanyi Okereke receives the full measure of justice so that their bereavement is not compounded by any actions that can cause them further pain and suffering.
“I have expressed my personal condolence to his family and have arranged to meet with them when the parents of Mr Okereke, who are already on their way, arrive in Abuja.
“Additionally, I have committed to them that I will support his wife and the immediate family he has left behind.
“I commiserate with the family of Mr Ifeanyi Okereke and ask all Nigerians to join me at this time to pray for the peaceful repose of his soul.”