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Gbajabiamila’s security aide ‘shoots’ newspaper vendor

The speaker stopped and asked what happened, but the police told him nothing and they moved on

A security aide attached to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, was has been suspended after shooting at a newspaper vendor, Ifeanyi Chukwu, in Abuja on Thursday.

Gbajabiamila confirmed the incident in tweets he posted afterwards.

It was also learnt that Chukwu, who was shot in the head, was rushed to the National Hospital, Abuja, where he later died.

The chairman of the Abuja chapter of the Newspaper Distributors Association of Nigeria, Benjamin Obute, narrated the incident to Daily Trust thus: “What happened was that, at the Federal Secretariat where our vendors sell their papers, you know that place is the heart of Abuja, especially the rep members and senators, that is their route, and traffic lights used to stop them for about two minutes.

“So, while they were hailing them, they used to pack some money and give them. It has been the tradition for years now. Gbajabiamila knows this late Ifeanyi Chukwu one on one.

“While he (the speaker) was waiting for the traffic light to turn green, he handed over N9,000 to his aide in the front seat and handed over the money to them before one of the security details shot him (Chukwu) in the head and shot into the air.

“The speaker stopped and asked what happened, but the police told him nothing and they moved on. The DPO at the Federal Secretariat was one of the persons that arranged how we took late Ifeanyi to the National Hospital where he was confirmed dead.”

Obute said his members would protest on Friday and march to the Force Headquarters to demand justice for their late colleague.

A doctor at the hospital said: “A vendor was shot in the head by a security operative this afternoon. He died after all resuscitative measures at the National Hospital failed.”

When contacted for a reaction, the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, promised to get back to Daily Trust, but did not do so as of the time of filing this report (11.20pm).

Distraught

Gbajabiamila, in a statement, said he was distraught by the incident.

“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,” he said.

He earlier posted his statement on Twitter.

Gbajabiamila said 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,” he added.