Ataga: Lagos Court told how late Super TV boss’ lifeless body was found
A Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), was yesterday, told how the lifeless body of Michael Usifo Ataga , the Super TV Chief Executive Officer was found in the short service apartment.
Nkechi Mogbo, the prosecution witness, at on-going trial of Chidinma Ojukwu alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri, over alleged murder of Ataga, narrated how the body was found.
Mogbo, is the owner of the short service apartment, where the late Super TV’s Chief Executive Officer, was allegedly murdered by Chidinma Ojukwu, said to be a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos.
Led-in-evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs. Adeyinka Adeyemi, the witness told court that she got a call from a private number on June 13, 2021, requesting for a short let service apartment.
According to her, the apartment is fully furnished like a normal house with cable TV subscription, 24-hour power services and a well-equipped kitchen.
She narrated that couples, workers, students and people from out of town who come in for weddings were categories of people who book for the apartment, stressing that the apartment could be booked online or through referrals from agents.
She further told the court that Chidinma left the service apartment before the day she was to leave.
She said: “On June 13, 2021 at about 4:00p.m., a lady (suspect) called me on phone with a private number and requested for the apartment.
“The lady requested to see the apartment to ensure that the facilities were up to the standard she needed. I asked the lady (suspect) to send a message to me through WhatsApp, so I could forward the address to her, which I did.
“ I called my security guard at the apartment and informed him that someone was coming to check the place. Afterwards, the lady through a WhatsApp message confirmed to me that she would take the apartment for three days.
“She mentioned that her name was Jewel and I forwarded payment details. Thereafter, she sent proof of payment of N125,000, to me via WhatsApp. The payment was made through a Guaranty Trust Bank account from one Mr. Michael Usifo, which had a time and date of transfer and my name as recipient.”
Mogbon testified that the payment was made from the first initiator, which was Mr. Michael and she confirmed receipt.
She said that hours later, she put a call across to her security guard on another issue upon which he made a remark that they have just noticed a body on the ground of the said apartment.
“I panicked when my security guard told me about the body. I asked the whereabouts of the lady, because the guard confirmed that the lady who booked the apartment was with one guy. They said she left the night before about 7:30p.m.
“ I hung up the phone and tried to reach out to the lady, but she didn’t pick up my calls. I sent her a message, because I didn’t want her to know that I was aware of what happened. I tried to do something, to initiate conversation, which I told her the later payment didn’t come through, which I confirmed in the morning. “
The witness said that the first defendant said she would reach out to her friend to make the payment, adding that a few minutes later she got another N50,000, from the same initiator, from the same account of GTBank from Mr. Michael.
She further told the court how she was taken to Panti police station and how she stayed for seven days in custody in a view to help police do proper investigation.
She also narrated how she could not identify Chidinma Ojukwu when she was brought to the station, adding that it was through the aid of a picture she got from her phone that enabled her to identify the suspect.
The witness said her conversations with the suspect were done through WhatsApp so she printed out the conversations and also sent it as an email to the police.
The DPP however tendered the printed copy of the WhatsApp conversation as evidence.
Counsel to the first defendant, Mr. Onwuka Egbu, objected to the admissibility of the document. He argued that, “it is a public document which must be certified before it can be used as evidence”.
After the argument and submission of counsel on both sides, the trial judge, Yetunde Adesanya overruled the argument of the defendant’s counsel and admitted the document as evidence.
However, Egbu sought adjournment to enable him study the documents recently served on him to enable him prepare for cross-examination of the witness.
The judge, however, granted his request and adjourned further hearing to November 15.