Newspaper vendors in Nigeria have blasted the family of their late colleague, Ifeanyichukwu Okereke, for demanding N500m from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Okereke died after being shot by a security aide to the speaker and his family in a letter signed by their lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), demanded the large sum as compensation.
Ozekhome said he was given the mandate to write the letter by the father of the deceased, Okorie Okereke; and the younger brother to the deceased, Destiny Okereke.
The Department of State Services (DSS) had last week arrested the operative, Abdullahi Hassan, who shot Okereke while Gbajabiamila had also visited the family of the deceased and promised to ensure that they do not suffer.
However, the family demanded more, adding that nothing could bring back the dead vendor back to life.
The family also asked the Speaker to ensure that the safety of vendors is guaranteed as they had become afraid to return to the streets since the tragic incident.
The Okereke family said it would take legal action against Gbajabiamila if all the demands are not met within seven days.
But in a letter on Wednesday, in Abuja, the newspaper vendors’ leadership faulted the demands of Okereke’s family, berating them for threatening the speaker with litigation.
The letter was jointly signed by Comrade Benji Obute, President, Abuja Newspapers Distributors Association (ANDA); and Comrade Etim Iwara, Chairman, Newspapers Vendors Association, Abuja (NVAA).
While disowning the late colleague family’s letter in its entirety, the vendors said they were neither consulted nor ordered anybody to write and send such letter to the Speaker on their behalf.
“In as much as we cannot decide for Ifeanyi’s family what they want in place of their slain son, we strongly object to the use of our name in the letter. We are not at war with anybody or agency and not afraid of going to the streets,” it read.
“At our level, we are engaging the Rt Honourable Speaker and his team, and having fruitful discussions aimed at getting adequate compensation for the family. We do not encourage and support any aggressive approach since the Speaker has taken responsibility and doing everything within his powers to alleviate the pains of the family and all those associated with the slain Ifeanyi.
“We enjoin the family to tow the path of dialogue and have this issue resolved amicably as needless legal approach and media trial won’t yield the needed fruit,” the letter added.