A police aide attached to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has shot dead a newspaper vendor in Abuja.
In a statement personally signed by the Speaker, he said a full investigation into the incident has been launched.
The Punch newspaper had on Thursday evening reported that the incident happened at about 3 p.m. around the federal secretariat, which is the closest establishment to the Three Arms Zone.
The victim, Ifeanyi Okereke, was rushed to the National Hospital by his colleagues after being hit by the bullet.
The spokesperson of the National Hospital, Tayo Haastrup, confirmed that the victim died after sustaining gunshot injury to the head.
Contrary to the report, Mr Gbajabiamila said, “shots were fired into the air when some unidentified men obstructed his convoy”. He said the victim was hit by a stray bullet.
“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.
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.
— Femi Gbajabiamila (@femigbaja) November 20, 2020
“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.
“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,” the Speaker said.
The Shehu Shagari Way, which is adjacent to the National Assembly entrance, is a known spot for newspaper vendors.
Most of the vendors receive various gifts from lawmakers and other dignitaries who stop by the traffic light.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how the sullied reputation of the Nigeria Police Force suffered more blows after youth across the country, weeks ago, took to the streets in protest against police brutality, particularly the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The case of the newspaper vendor is one out of the many extrajudicial killings carried out by the police.
The SARS had long been accused of unlawful arrests, torture, extortion and extrajudicial killings.
The protests, which initially started peacefully, turned violent, after a government clampdown with hoodlums taking advantage of the situation.
Dozens of people, including peaceful protesters and police officers, have been killed while public and private facilities were attacked.
Arguably, the worst of such incidents was the attack on protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos when soldiers shot at peaceful protesters, who gathered there. At least two people were killed in the Lekki incident.
Though the government had made some concessions, including announcing the dissolution of the notorious SARS unit and the constitution of judicial panels by a number of states to investigate police abuses, the protests had continued with the protesters widening their demands to include calls for reforms across the country’s entire police system.
At least 56 people died during the #EndSARS protests, the human rights group, Amnesty International, said. The government has downplayed the killing of peaceful protesters including a CNN report which detailed the atrocities of the Nigerian security forces during the Lekki incident.