The Abuja Newspaper Distributors Association (ANDA) and Newspaper Vendors Association Abuja (NVAA), have protested the killing of their member by security details in the convoy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The protest is coming in the midst of confusion on whether it was a policeman or secret service operative that pulled the trigger.
PRNigeria gathered that the police were in the open van while operatives of the Department of Security Service (DSS) were in a Jeep. The Chief Security Officer and the Chief Detail of the Speaker who was in the convoy would be in better positions to identify the killer of the vendor.
The victim, Ifeanyi Okereke was allegedly shot in the head by a security operative attached to the speaker around the Federal Secretariat, the closest establishment to the Three Arms Zone.
The spokesperson of the National Hospital, Tayo Haastrup, confirmed the death of the victim from a gunshot injury.
The victim left behind a one-week-old baby whose naming ceremony was supposed to be this weekend.
Chanting “all we are saying, give us justice,” the Abuja vendors insist that the matter must not be swept under the carpet and the perpetrator must be brought to justice.
Carrying placards calling for “Justice for Elechi,” “Vendors lives matter,” “We need Justice,” “End Police Brutality,” among other captions, they protesters the killing.
The protesters who proceeded through the Area One roundabout of the capital city said they did not take the protest to the National Assembly or anywhere else to avoid an infiltration by people with ulterior motives.
“As you can see, we are peaceful and we are proceeding carefully because we don’t want our protest to be hijacked by other elements for looting and destruction. All we are demanding for is justice for Elechi,” Says Comrade Benji Ebute, President of the ANDA.
“The victim was supposed to host the naming ceremony of his new baby this week but recklessness on the side of the errant security details has cost his life. Femi knows this very victim one on one, so when they came to hail him as usual, he gave his orderly N9,000 to give to the vendors which Ifeanyi collected but the officer shot him at close range and released another shot in the air.”
On his part, Chairman of the NVAA, Comrade Etim Iwara, while vowing to continue the protest until justice is done, charged newspaper vendors to be law-abiding and follow due process to ensure the victim gets justice.
“Until justice is done, a vendor’s life remains under threat…we cannot say #EndSARS protest has gone, when we are seeing new brutality…we are ready to interface with the government to secure our lives before we go back to our work. Vendors are working for everyone and we are non-partisan. We are information providers as we bring news to the doorstep of Nigerians,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Gbajabiamila, says he is “personally distraught” over the killing of a newspaper vendor, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Elechi, by one of his security details.
Gbajabiamilia, who expressed his regret over the incident in a statement issued early on Friday, said that his “deepest sympathies” are with the family of the victim and all vendors in Abuja over the sad incident.
The speaker explained that the incident occurred when he stopped his convoy to exchange pleasantries with the vendors as was his usual practice after work.
According to the fifth-term lawmaker, many of them have known me since I first moved to Abuja and it was a friendly exchange.
“Unfortunately, after the convoy set out in continuation of our movement, unidentified persons obstructed the convoy which got the attention of security men in the convoy who shot into the air to disperse them.
“Some hours later, after getting to our destination, 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.
Gbajabiamila said he has instructed that a report be lodged with the local police station and an investigation has commenced into the matter.
However, he has announced the suspension of the officer who fired the fatal shot from his convoy pending the conclusion of the investigation.