The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday said he had handed over the security operative, Abdullahi M. Hassan, who shot a newspaper vendor, Ifeanyi Okereke, to the Department of State Security (DSS) for investigation and appropriate administrative and judicial action.
Okereke died at the National Hospital Abuja on Thursday after he was shot in the head by one of Gbajabiamila’s security details, around the National Secretariat, after he and other newspaper vendors flocked around the convoy of the Speaker, who was passing by on the fateful day, to ask for money.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement, giving update on the horrific event, also said he had arranged to meet with the late vendor’s family.
The Speaker, while commiserating with the family of the victim, urged all Nigerians to join him to pray for the peaceful repose of his soul.
The statement reads, ‘’The unfortunate death of Mr. Ifeanyi Okereke at the hands of one of my security aides has left me deeply shaken. Mr. Okereke was a citizen going about his business, trying to make a living for himself and his family. There is no reason for his life to have ended the way it did.
‘’This morning, I have handed over the security operative, Abdullahi M. Hassan, to the Department of State Security (DSS) for investigation and appropriate administrative and judicial action. In the interim, he has been suspended from the convoy. I expect, and I will see to it that the family of Mr. Ifeanyi Okereke receives the full measure of justice so that their bereavement is not compounded by any actions that can cause them further pain and suffering.
‘’I have expressed my personal condolence to his family and have arranged to meet with them when the parents of Mr. Okereke, who are already on their way, arrive in Abuja. Additionally, I have committed to them that I will support his wife and the immediate family he has left behind.’’
The DSS, which yesterday identified the shooter Hassan as one of its own, said he had been detained, as part of its disciplinary procedures, and had opened a detailed investigation into the allegation.
According to a statement last night by the Public Relations Officer of the Service, Dr. Peter Afunanya, they would be transparent and accountable in handling the killing of Okereke by their personnel, and that they were liaising with appropriate authorities to achieve this objective.
The statement said, “The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to the allegation of shooting and killing of one Ifeanyi Okereke by a security aide of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“The Service hereby confirms that the suspect is one of its personnel deployed to the Speaker’s Convoy as a security detail. And as already stated by the Speaker that he has been suspended from his Convoy, the Service has further withdrawn him from the assignment.
“As part of its disciplinary procedures in the instance, he has been taken into detention. In addition, the Service has opened a detailed investigation into the matter. While it pledges to be transparent and accountable in handling this, it is liaising with appropriate authorities to achieve this objective. The Service condoles with the family of the deceased and his loved ones. It has promised a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident and will surely keep to this.”
Angered by the senseless killing of Okereke, newspapers vendors in the Federal Capital Territory yesterday embarked on peaceful protest, calling for justice for their slain colleague.
“We will not allow this unfortunate incident to be swept under the carpet,” said the Chairman of Newspapers Vendors Association in the FCT, Etim Eteng. “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 is 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.”
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the FCT Police Command, ASP Yusuf Mariam, yesterday issued a statement denying earlier reports that Hassan was a member of the force.
“The FCT Police Command wishes to unequivocally refute the allegation making 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 Arm Zone on Thursday 19th November, 2020,” the statement said.
“Contrary to the misleading information, 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 CP. 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.’’