Newspaper Vendors in Abuja have planned a protest over Thursday afternoon shooting to death of one of its members, Ifeanyichukwu Elechi, by a security detail in the convoy of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is an operative of the Department of State Service
In a letter circulated late on Thursday, and signed by Etim Iwara, the Chairman of the Abuja Vendors Association, the vendors said the protest fixed for between 6 and 10 am on Friday, will see all vendors converging on the Area 1 axis of the city, and them not lifting and distributing newspapers.
Meanwhile, the Speaker has consoled the Vendors Association.
In a letter he personally signed, the Speaker said the police officer identified to have fired the fatal shot has been suspended from his convoy with an investigation already on to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident, which he said only came to his knowledge on Thursday night.
The Speaker chronicled the series of events leading up to the incident: “…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 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.”
The statement continues: “…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.
“l am personally distraught about this incident and my deepest sympathies go to the victim, his family and Abuja vendors.”