Usifo Ataga: Policeman Testifies As 9th Witness, Tells Court How Chidinma Was Tracked
A police officer serving with the homicide department of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Yaba, DSP Olusegun Bamidele, on Monday testified as the ninth prosecution witness, in the alleged murder case of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga.
Bamidele who testified before the Lagos High Court sitting in Tafawa Balewa Square narrated how a university undergraduate, Chidinma Ojukwu, charged with the murder of Ataga, was tracked through her phone.
While answering questions from the Lagos State’s Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Adenike Oluwafemi, the police officer said that the Intelligence and Tactical Unit of the SCID tracked Ojukwu down at No. 57, Akinwunmi St., Alagomeji, Yaba.
The police officer first narrated how the case was transferred from Maroko police station to his own department at SCID Yaba.
He said the case was transferred and assigned to his team on June 17, 2021, with a suspect, one Nkechi Mogbo, the owner of the apartment where the incident occurred.
The witness said that the investigating police officer (IPO) from the Maroko police station explained to him, how a complaint about a body with a mark of violence was brought to their station.
Bamidele said that the IPO from Maroko also informed him that he took pictures and made video recordings which were transferred into his Infinix Hot 4, smartphone.
The witness narrated that after receiving the complaint from the Maroko IPO, he visited the scene of the crime alongside the IPO and Mogbo, the owner of the place.
“We met the security guard who took us into the apartment and I observed that there were bloodstains on the floor, the bed was ruffled with bloodstains on the pillow and the duvet,” he said.
“The IPO also took me to Yaba general hospital mortuary, to see the body and I observed that there were stab wounds on the deceased body, including injury on his head and knees. I also saw that the two wrists had marks indicating that they were tied.”
The witness said that when he interacted with Mogbo, she informed him that on June 13, a phone call came from one Jewel, who requested for a room at her short service apartment.
He also said that the security guard at the apartment also told him how the body of the deceased was discovered at the apartment where the said Jewel lodged with the deceased.
Bamidele also said that the security guard at the apartment gave him a phone number which the said Jewel had used in calling him while at the apartment.
He added, “After getting the information from the security guard, we engaged a tracking team. The trackers with the intelligent and tactical unit, tracked one Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu, down, at No. 57, Akinwunmi St., Alagomeji Yaba.”
The witness also told the court that the statements of the owner of the apartment and the security guard were all taken and he identified the statements which were already in court as exhibits.
He also said that the pictures and videos in his phone were downloaded into a disc by an information technology expert in his office.
At this point, the prosecutor asked for an adjournment to enable the prosecution team to bring the videos for viewing and to tender it as evidence before the court.
Before the testimony of the police officer, an Access Bank account officer, Mr Toafeek Lawal, gave evidence as the eighth witness.
He gave evidence on the Naira account statements of the deceased starting from April 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021.
He said that there were, however, no transactions on the account from June 19 to August 31.
He also said that immediately after the bank learned of the death of Usifo Ataga, it placed a Post No Debit (POD) on the account to stop any debit from being effected on the account.
He also mentioned that the deceased operated two accounts with the bank which were a Naira account and a Domiciliary account.
The witness was cross-examined by the first defendant’s counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu.
Egwu asked the witness to confirm that in a USSD mode of transfer, “the password is exclusive to the owner of the account”
The witness answered that the password was meant to be exclusive unless the owner decided otherwise.
Egwu also asked the witness to confirm how many payments were made to the first defendant, Chidinma during the period the statement covered.
The witness answered that it was only once.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya has adjourned the case until May 10 for the continuation of trial.
The 300-level Mass communication student of the University of Lagos, Chidinma Ojukwu and one Adedapo Quadri, both key suspects in the alleged murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga, were arraigned before the court on Oct 12, last year.
The murder was said to have been committed in a service apartment in the Lekki area of Lagos State.
The duo were arraigned by the Lagos State Government on a 9 count charge alongside a third defendant, Chidinma’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu on a 9 count charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, forgery, stealing and being in possession of the stolen property.
They all pleaded not guilty.
In count one, Chidinma and Adedapo are charged with conspiring to murder Usifo Ataga contrary to Section 233 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos 2015.
In count two, Chidinma and Adedapo are charged with the murder of Usifo Ataga, an offence said to have been committed by stabbing him several times on the neck and chest with a knife.
In counts 3,4, 5,6 & 7, Chidinma and Adedapo are charged with conspiracy to commit forgery, forgery and making documents without authority. They were specifically alleged to have procured false Access & UBA bank account statements of Usifo Ataga. They also allegedly forged an international passport and a drivers license In Chidinma’s name.
In count 8, Chidinma is charged alone with stealing 2 iPhones-an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 11, one Apple MacBook Laptop and an ATM card of Access and GT Banks belonging to the late Usifo Ataga form which the sum of N380,000 was subsequently withdrawn.
In count 9, Chidinma’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu was charged with being in possession of the stolen property, the iPhone 7 belonging to the late Usifo Ataga.
Usifo was found dead with multiple stabs on June 16 at a short let apartment on Adebowale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase I where he had checked in with his lover, Ojukwu.
Miss. Ojukwu was consequently arrested on June 23 in her father’s house in Yaba and paraded at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja.
The 50-year-old deceased was buried on July 30 in a low-key ceremony attended by his family members, including his wife, and friends.