Usifo Ataga: Court Adjourns To May 23 At Instance Of New Defence Counsel
A Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square has adjourned till May 23 for the continuation of the trial of an undergraduate, Chidinma Ojukwu, charged with the murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga.
Chidinma and one Adedapo Quadri are standing trial alongside a third defendant, Chidinma’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, forgery, stealing, and being in possession of stolen property.
They had all pleaded not guilty. At the proceedings on Monday, the new counsel for the third defendant, Ngozi Akandu, again asked the court to vacate the trial dates already fixed.
Akandu told the court that he was yet to receive the proof of evidence from the prosecution counsel and the office of the public defender (the former counsel for the third defendant).
“I have no facilities to render services to the third defendant. I, therefore, apply that today’s date and other dates already fixed be vacated.
“This is because I have seen the volume of documents from other counsel, it is not something someone can read in a day,” he argued.
Counsel for Ojukwu, Mr Onwuka Egwu, had no objections to the application.
He added that the proof of evidence was very voluminous as it had about 400 pages.
The second defendant counsel, Mr Babatunde Busari, however, said “I will concede to the adjournment for today but I will object to other dates being vacated because it took a lot of bending backward to choose the dates”.
The Deputy Director for Public Prosecutions, Adenike Oluwafemi, however, raised objections to the application. She accused the third defendant’s counsel of not going to the OPD to collect the documents as scheduled.
She also informed the court that the prosecution witness was available and ready to proceed.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya, in a short ruling, vacated Monday’s date, May 16, and adjourned until May 23 for the continuation of the trial.
At the last sitting of the court on May 12, the trial could not go on owing to the change of counsel by the third defendant.
The new counsel, Mr Ngozi Akandu, had pleaded for more time to go through the case file having just been briefed about the proceedings.
The lawyer said, “I understand that trial has commenced, but I humbly apply and urge the court to give me time to study the case file, and also for the prosecution to avail me the clearer copies of the proof of evidence so that I can come in properly”.
A ninth prosecution witness, a police officer, DSP Olusegun Bamidele, is yet to conclude his evidence in the matter.
The three hundred 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 was arraigned by the Lagos State Government on a 9 count charge alongside a third defendant, Chidinma’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, forgery, stealing, and being in possession of a 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 in 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 driver’s 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 from 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.