The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has described the killing of a newspaper vendor in Abuja by one of the security details as horrible, saying he is distraught by the incident. In a statement he personally signed and issued in the early hours of Friday, said he did not know that someone was killed in the attempt to protect him until he arrived his destination.
The incident, which occurred at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, around 3 pm on Thursday, had caused panic in the area. The victim, identified as Ifeanyi Okereke, was subsequently rushed to the National Hospital by his brother and some police officers, where he reportedly died.
It was learnt that the shooting happened when Okereke 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.
The Speaker’s statement read, “A horrible incident has taken place. This evening as I left the national assembly, I stopped as usual to exchange pleasantries with the newspaper vendors at the corner. 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 movement, unidentified men 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.”
“I have caused a report to be made to the local police station and an investigation has commenced. In the meantime; the officer who fired the fatal shot has been suspended from the convoy pending the conclusion of the investigation.”
Gbajabiamila further wrote, “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. I am personally distraught about this incident and my deepest sympathies go to the victim, his family, and Abuja vendors.”