An Abuja newspaper, Vendor, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Okereke was on Thursday evening hit by a stray bullet shot by an overzealous policeman on the convoy of House of Representatives Speaker, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila. Okereke died shortly after, as efforts to safe his life by his colleagues failed.
The event occured at the Federal Secretariat in the full glare of many people.
The Speaker had stopped to exchange pleasantries and possibly cash with the vendors as usual. The jubilant vendors were said to be hailing him in appreciation. It was reported that the cop shot into them in an effort to control the crowd.
The Speaker who apparently was not aware of the ugly outcome, drove on to his destination. He confirmed the death in a Press Statement.
He said the officer in question, who fired the shot, had been suspended from the convoy pending the conclusion of the investigation. He said:
“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 the movement, unidentified men obstructed the convoy which got the attention of security men in the convoy. They 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. 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 socioeconomic 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 of 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.”
It was gathered that the incident was not the first time security men attached to the Speaker would be having issues with the Vendors. An eye witness claimed each time the Speaker gave out money to the vendors “to connect” with them, the police will come back to demand for their share.