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 Federal House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
The deceased, Ifeanyi Emmanuel Okeke, alias Elechi, was said to have died after he was hit on the head by bullets allegedly fired by one of the security details in the convoy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, in Abuja on Thursday.
The protesters carrying placards with various inscriptions, “Justice for Elechi,” “Vendors lives matter,” “We need Justice,” “End Police Brutality,” among other captions proceeded through the Area One roundabout of the capital city.
Speaking to newsmen, Comrade Benji Ebute, President of the Abuja Newspaper Distributors Association (ANDA) said “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 lootings and destructions. All we are demanding for is Justice for Elechi,”.
“The victim was supposed to be having naming ceremony 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 N9,000.00 to give to the vendors which Ifeanyi collected but the officer shot him at close range and released another shot in the air.”
The Chairman, Abuja Newspaper Vendors Association (NVAA), Comrade Etim Iwara, while vowing to continue the protest until justice is done, charged newspaper vendors to be law-abiding in their profession 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 has gone, when we are seeing new brutality…we are ready to interface with the government to secure our lives before we continue our normal routine. 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 Femi Gbajabiamila, says he is “personally distraught” over the killing of a newspaper vendor, Mr Ifeanyichukwu Elechi, by one of his security details who he revealed as Abdullahi Hassan.
Gbajabiamilia, who expressed his regret over the incident in a statement issued yesterday, said that his “deepest sympathies” are with the family of the victim and all vendors in Abuja over the sad incident which occurred close to the Federal Secretariat on Thursday.
The speaker explained that the incident occurred when he stopped his convey 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 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.
“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 also revealed that he has caused a report to be made to the local police station and an investigation has commenced into the matter.