Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Gbajabiamila’s police aide shot father of two-week-old baby in head: Witnesses

Witnesses interviewed by the Gazette contradict the Speaker’s claim that his aides shot into the air to disperse a mob.

• November 20, 2020
The Speaker of House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila
The Speaker of House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila (Photo Credit: Channels TV)

Contrary to claims by the Speaker of Nigeria‘s lower parliament Femi Gbajabiamila, that a newspaper vendor killed by his security aide on Thursday was hit by a stray bullet, fresh facts have emerged detailing the tragic incident.

Witnesses told Peoples Gazette Friday morning that an erratic police officer attached to Mr. Gbajabiamila’s security detail purposely shot the unarmed vendor, Ifeanyichukwu Elechi — father of a two-week-old child — in the head when the lawmaker’s convoy was swarmed by a cheering crowd after being flagged by the traffic lights around the Eagle Square.

“It was not a stray bullet,” a taxi driver who identified himself as Wakili Usman told Peoples Gazette Friday morning. “The Speaker’s convoy was halted by the traffic light at about 4:00 p.m. on Thursday. My taxi was behind his convoy. 

“Vendors around the Eagle Square are usually fond of crowding around the convoy of prominent people, who sometimes wave at them or give them stipends during gridlocks,”

“The Speaker’s convoy comprising about four SUVs and three pickup vans rushed past the crowd and a policeman in the last pickup van, who was possibly drunk shot the unarmed vendor in the head — a young man who had only his newspapers in his possession,” the driver added, noting that he shuttles National Assembly and the nearby Eagle Square intersection every day. 

Another witness who did not provide his real name for fear of being shut out of his business by Eagle Square told the Gazette that after the shooting, Mr. Gbajabiamila’s convoy drove on but was pursued by a police vehicle on routine patrol.

“The police vehicle blocked the convoy around Transcorp area and informed them of the killing. If the police patrol vehicle hadn’t chased after the Speaker’s convoy, they probably would have denied the incident,” he said. “The Speaker’s convoy immediately reversed and was headed for the scene but stopped at Unity Fountain on the advice of his security detail in order to avoid a riot.”

Mr. Gbajabiamila in a statement early today said he was only informed of the killing several hours after getting to his destination from the National Assembly.

“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,” Mr. Gbajabiamila said, while explaining that his security aide shot in the air to disperse “unidentifiable men” who appeared to cross his convoy after he had stopped by to exchange pleasantries with the vendors, the Gazette reported.

The killer cop has since been taken into custody, the Gazette learnt, sequel to his suspension by the Speaker, who had directed the police to thoroughly investigate the shooting and bring justice to the family of the deceased vendor.

The violence came amidst protests against police brutality in Nigeria.

 Nigerian politicians and their security aides are regularly caught in fatal incidents while on the road. 

Last September, three students were killed by security aides of Bisi Fayemi, wife of Ekiti governor. 

Last month, a police aide to Abike Dabiri-Erewa shot and killed a 19-year-old man in Abuja. The officer was subsequently taken into custody, but the victim’s family said the Buhari administration official has refused to get in touch with them to offer condolences, much less succour for the tragedy. 

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