According to reports early Friday, a security aide to Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, allegedly shot a newspaper vendor, identified as Ifeanyi Okereke, in the head.
The horrific incident happened at about 3 pm, on Thursday, at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja. The victim was reportedly rushed to the National Hospital by his brother and some police officers, where he eventually died.
There are also accounts indicating that the late Okereke got hit by a stray bullet when he and some other street vendors on the Shehu Shagari Way, Three Arms Zone, gathered around the speaker’s convoy who was in the habit of giving them money whenever he passed by.
Gbajabiamila, Friday, took to his Twitter handle to describe his own account of how the sad incident occurred and measures he is taking to address the issue.
His tweet reads:
The speaker suspending the culprit is a step in the right direction but justice has to be served. This is especially because of the careless handling of live ammunition by security operatives amidst unarmed civilians. To state it as worrisome is to make light of our concerns. It is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed considering the number of lives that have been lost to so-called “accidental discharge” over the years. Mr Okereke’s death and the #LekkiShooting that left many young Nigerians dead during the #EndSARS protest are a few cases in point.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army claimed that they had shot blank bullets into the air to disperse the crowd exactly one month ago even though available evidence proves otherwise. “Coincidentally,” the Speaker claims that his security detail had shot into the air to disperse some so-called unidentified men who were obstructing his convoy’s movement.
In a recent development, however, Gbajabiamila posted a statement on his Twitter page, where he announced that the culprit, Abdullahi M. Hassan, has been handed over to the Department of State Security (DSS) for investigation and appropriate judicial action. He also expressed his condolences to Okereke’s family and his commitment to support the deceased immediate family, including his wife.
But there are many questions that need to be asked. Assuming (without conceding) that the movement of the Speaker’s convoy was obstructed, does it warrant shooting into the air amidst unarmed civilians? Couldn’t his security details have employed safer measures to disperse the crowd rather than endanger people’s lives?
Why exactly do security operatives use brute force on unarmed civilians? We should also ask a bigger question; should all security agents in Nigeria be allowed to carry AK-47, knowing its potency to kill?
According to an article on Military.com, the AK-47 is the deadliest weapon ever built, on the whole. Its kill count even tops nuclear weapons in sheer numbers. But the first AK-47s were very heavy and weren’t really built for aiming.
The weapon uses a 7.62mm, high-velocity round that can “destroy whole areas of a body,” according to New York City trauma surgeons. They shatter bones, tear through organs and liquefy other materials as the round tumbles through the body — often in ways that cannot be repaired.
What exactly is the problem with Nigerian security operatives and the rampant cases of so-called “accidental discharge?” Is it a lack of proper training on how to handle live ammunition among unarmed civilians, sadism, hero-worship or trigger-happiness?
Whatever may be the case, the issue must be addressed by the government to put an end the increasing number of needless deaths resulting from “accidental discharge” from the mishandling of live ammunition by the armed forces. Too many families have already been thrown into a state of mourning from avoidable deaths in Nigeria and what the nation needs now is healing not more grief.
In the meantime, justice must be served for the death of Ifeanyi Okereke. Every life must matter in Nigeria and every other part of the world.