LAWYERS on Friday reacted to the incident that led to the death of Ifeanyi Elechi, a newspaper vendor shot by undisclosed security operative attached to Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representative.
The lawyers argued both the Speaker and the security official should be held responsible for taking life of the deceased, despite being unarmed. The Speaker earlier claimed the security operative shot in the air to disperse the people obstructing his convoy and not at the vendor.
Tope Akinyode, one of the legal practitioners, reacting to the death said the victim was killed in an extra judicial manner, even though the deceased was not a hoodlum.
As a result, he called for the probe of the incident and immediate arrest of the Speaker, stressing that Gbajabiamila is not under immunity.
“The police must immediately arrest Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, take him into custody for interrogation and prosecute him within 48 hours. Mr Speaker is not protected by any immunity under the Nigerian laws. The killers of a street vendor in Abuja yesterday must be brought to book,” he stated.
Solomon Okedara, Human Right Lawyer also demanded for a thorough probe of the incident.
He argued the police is mandated to protect the citizens and not otherwise. The deceased, he explained has been denied of his fundamental human right to life.
In her reaction, Wumi Oluseye, a female lawyer disclosed that the case could be handled as a criminal liability or civil liability.
According to her, if the case is to be approached as a criminal matter, the person who shot at the late Elechi would be held liable. On the contrary, as a civil case, both the security operative and the principal would have to face the consequence of the action.
The principal in this context, she said is not necessarily the lawmaker but the security authority that deployed the operative.
“They can be charged under guilty of care as well. It is just like being responsible for the safety of other road users as a driver. So, the person who is being protected and the officer could be charged to court as a civil liability.”
Meanwhile, the case of arbitrarily killing by security operative is not new.
In 2019, Bisi Fayemi, Wife of the Ekiti State Governor was allegedly accused of ordering the shooting of students during a protest at the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE). Though, she denied the incident Nigerians called for her prosecution.
We want justice – newspaper vendors protest
The killing of Elechi the newspaper vendor has eventually led to a protest by relatives and members of the Newspaper Vendors Association.
In placards with different inscriptions, the demonstrators demanded for justice. Some of the writings are: “Femi Gbajabiamila aide killed Elechi a vendor,” “End Police Brutality Now,” “Vendors are also humans”, “Vendors lives matters,” among others.
While Okedara called for a petition to Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), he emphasised probing the incident would unravel if the officer shot at will to protect the lawmaker or he was under an instruction.
Citing the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, the Okedara explained that in a situation such as the incident, it is only the culprit (officer) that would be held responsible. He, however, added that the lawmaker could be brought into the case if the police officer had acted under instruction of an authority.
“As he was denied right to life, there is need for thorough investigation into the matter. And anyone indicted in the case must face the consequence,” he stated.
He also called for full compensation for the deceased as he has relatives and other dependents who look up to him to meet their needs.
“Let there be a petition to the IGP asking for a thorough investigation of the matter. And while the matter is being investigated and prosecution of those being investigated, another case should be filed on the basis of breaching his fundamental human right.
“We are asking substantial compensation for the family. From the narrative, somebody somewhere depends on him. And the moment his life was taken away, the people are rendered helpless.”