By Tony Akowe and Nicholas Kalu, Abuja
Gbajabiamila hands over suspect, pledges justice, support for family of deceased
Abuja vendors protest killing of colleague
The Department of State Services (DSS) said on Friday it had commenced investigation into the alleged shooting of a newspaper vendor by its personnel in Abuja on Thursday.
Public Relations Officer of the Service, National Headquarters, Abuja, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said the suspect is one of its personnel deployed to House of Representatives speaker’s convoy as a security detail.
Afunanya spoke a few hours after Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila confirmed that he had handed over Abdullahi Hassan to the DSS, his employers.
The DSS said: “The Service hereby confirms that the suspect is one of its personnel deployed to the Speaker’s convoy as a security detail. And as already stated by the Speaker that he has been suspended from his convoy, the Service has further withdrawn him from the assignment.
“As part of its disciplinary procedures in the instance, he has been taken into detention. In addition, the Service has opened a detailed investigation into the matter.
“While it pledges to be transparent and accountable in handling this, it is liaising with appropriate authorities to achieve this objective.”
Gbajabiamila pledges justice, support for family of deceased
Earlier on Friday, Speaker Gbajabiamila said he was ‘deeply shaken’ by the killing of newspaper vendor, Ifeanyi Okereke.
Colleagues of the late Okereke yesterday took to the streets in Abuja to protest his death.
He described Okereke’s death as unfortunate.
He added: “Mr Okereke was a citizen going about his business, trying to make a living for himself and his family. There is no reason for his life to have ended the way it did.
“This morning, I have handed over the security operative, Abdullahi M. Hassan, to the Department of State Security (DSS) for investigation and appropriate administrative and judicial action.
“In the interim, he has been suspended from the convoy.
“I expect, and I will see to it that the family of Mr Ifeanyi Okereke receives the full measure of justice so that their bereavement is not compounded by any actions that can cause them further pain and suffering.
“I have expressed my personal condolence to his family and have arranged to meet with them when the parents of Mr Okereke, who are already on their way, arrive in Abuja.
“Additionally, I have committed to them that I will support his wife and the immediate family he has left behind.
“I commiserate with the family of Mr. Ifeanyi Okereke and ask all Nigerians to join me at this time to pray for the peaceful repose of his soul.”
Scores of Okereke’s colleagues yesterday paraded the streets of Abuja with placards, condemning his killing.
They asked that justice be done on the matter.
In his first account of the incident on Thursday, Gbajabiamia said: “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.”