*Say late vendor was to have held naming ceremony Friday
*Speaker gave them N9,000
*Gbajabiamila confirms incident, suspends errant officer
Members of the Abuja Newspaper Vendors Association, on Friday shut down the popular Area 1, Garki Newspaper Distribution Centre to protest and mourn one of its own who was killed on Thursday by a security operative attached to the convoy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Chairman of the Association, Etim Iwara, who addressed the vendors in tears, said the deceased member, Ifeanyichukwu Elechi, did not commit any offence, but was gunned down by an over-zealous security aide to the Speaker.
Iwara, who vowed that the vendors will take every necessary action to get justice for their slain member, also noted that distribution of newspapers to the public would be suspended till further notice.
An eyewitness and a vendor, Emmanuel Onyebuchi, said he was with the deceased when he was shot.
Onyebuchi noted that the convoy of the Speaker stopped at the traffic light junction at Federal Secretariat Area, the Speaker, Gbajabiamila beckoned on him, his shot colleague and others to come, the call which they swiftly responded to and got a cash gift of N9, 000 from the Speaker.
He explained that they were already rejoicing and praise-singing the gesture while heading back to their selling point, when the operative alighted from one of the back up vehicles and directly shot the deceased on the head.
Onyebuchi, who also revealed that the deceased who had scheduled the naming ceremony of his new born baby for Friday , died shortly after he was rushed to the National Hospital.
Onyebuchi explained: “The late Onyebuchi and I were greeting the Speaker, Gbajabiamila, even though the traffic light had passed him, but he parked and called us to come. Elechi and myself, we crossed to meet him and he gave us N9,000.
The DSS officer came down from the jeep, pulled his gun and shot Elechi while we were crossing the road to go back.
“I turned back and followed the officer, shouting, you’ve killed my brother, the officer also shot again into the air. but the bullet missed me, because I quickly fell on the ground.
“Elechi’s wife has a new born baby whose naming ceremony was supposed to be today (Friday).”
Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila has confirmed the death of a newspaper vendor shot by one of his security aides on Thursday.
The Speaker who, in a series of tweets on his official handle in the early hours of Friday, narrated how the incident took place, explained that the vendor was hit by a stray bullet meant to disperse a crowd when he went to greet newspaper vendors while leaving the National Assembly.
“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,” he explained.
“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.”
The Lagos lawmaker narrated that some hours after they got to their destination, he was informed that someone had the victim simply identified as Ifeanyi had been hit by a stray bullet.
He said this was “contrary to an earlier report by men in the convoy that they applied their security discretion to shoot in the air.
“In the meantime; the officer who fired the fatal shot has been suspended from the convoy pending the conclusion of the investigation.”
While sending his condolences to the family of the deceased, the Speaker expressed his sadness over the incident.
“For one of them (vendors) 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 added.
“I have caused a report to be made to the local police station and an investigation has commenced. 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.”