Abuja Newspaper Vendors Demand Justice for Member Killed by Gbajabiamila’s Security Detail
Members of the Abuja Newspapers Distributors Association (ANDA) on Friday come out on the streets of Nigeria’s federal capital territory, Abuja, to protest the killing of their colleague by a security officer in the entourage of the nation’s Speaker of the House of Representative, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The late vendor, Ifeanyi Elechi, was shot dead on Thursday the security aide whose identity has not been disclosed.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, issued a statement to say he was “personally distraught” over the killing of the vendor by his security details.
Gbajabiamila said he deeply sympathizes with the family of the victim and all vendors in Abuja over the sad incident, saying it “was brought to my attention that someone was hit by a stray bullet, contrary to an earlier report by men in the convoy that they applied their security discretion to shoot in the air.”
“My value for human life and my respect for all people, irrespective of social economic status, is what endeared me to these vendors and these are the reasons why I stop my convoy quite often to connect with them.
“For one of them to have been shot by my security detail is horrific and I cannot begin to imagine the grief and loss Ifeanyi’s family must feel on this sad day. No family should have to go through this.
He also said the officer who fired the fatal shot had been suspended from the convoy pending the conclusion of the investigation.
But the vendors who carried placards, demanded justice, insisting that the errant operative who is believed to be a Department of State Services (DSS) operative must be brought to book.
Reports said the shooting incident happened when Elechi and other street vendors selling on the Shehu Shagari Way, Three Arms Zone, flocked around the convoy of the speaker who was said to be in the habit of giving out money anytime he passed them.
Details of what transpired to cause the firing of the gunshot were still shoddy but Elechi was inexplicably shot in the head and died at the National Hospital.
Chairman of ANDA, Etim Eteng, insisted that the death of Elechi did not result from accidental gunfire or stray bullets, noting that he was shot point-blank by the unidentified security officer, stressing that there were witnesses at the scene.
He said during their protest that the association would not allow the matter to be “swept under the carpet.”
“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. The vendors association through their legal adviser are demanding justice.
“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.
“It was not an accidental discharge; he was shot in the head. It is not stray bullets, there are eyewitnesses. The spirit of Elechi would not rest until justice is done.”
The FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, has ordered an investigation into the incident, refuting the allegations that the killer was a police officer.
A statement by the command spokesperson, ASP Mariam Yusuf titled, ‘Shooting of newspapers vendor not by the police,’ commiserated with the family of the victim.
It read, “The FCT Police Command wishes to unequivocally refute the allegation making the round sections of the media that a police officer attached to the convoy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives shot at a newspaper vendor within the Three Arms Zone on Thursday 19th November 2020.
“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.”
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