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Ataga’s murder:  Police tore my statement, coerced me to sign theirs, Chidinma alleges

By Yetunde Ayobami Ojo
18 November 2022   |   4:40 am
Chidinma Ojukwu, a prime suspect in the murder of Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga, yesterday, told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Tafawa Balewa Square ...

Chidinma Ojukwu is Ataga’s murder suspect

Chidinma Ojukwu, a prime suspect in the murder of Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga, yesterday, told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) that the two statements she wrote were torn by the police.

     
Ojukwu told Justice Yetunde Adesanya that she was coerced to sign the statement written for her by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Olusegun Bamidele and one dictated to her by Olufunke Madeyinlo.
   
She disclosed this in her testimony in trial within trial to ascertain the voluntariness of the statement to the police.
   
Ojukwu, a suspected 300-level Mass Communication undergraduate, of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) is standing trial over the alleged murder of Ataga alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri.
 
They were also charged for stealing and forgery aside the case of murder. She alleged that she was told to rehearse the statement Bamidele wrote and narrate it to the Commissioner of Police (CP).
 
Led-in- evidence by her counsel, Mr Onwunka Egwu, Ojukwu said  before she was taken to the CP’s office at Ikeja on June 23, her hands were handcuffed to the chair she sat,  until the next morning on June 24, when she was brought out of the interrogation room and taken to Ikeja.
 
She told the court that on June 23, 2021, while in her room at No 47 Akinwunmi Street Alagomeji Yaba, her 10-year-old sister came to inform her that there were men in the sitting room looking for her.
 
“When I came to  the sitting room, I greeted them and they  asked if I was Chidinma and I replied in the affirmative. They asked me where Mr. Ataga’s phone and his Range Rover vehicle was?  I replied, ‘I don’t know’. 
 
“Then, my sister went to call my Dad (her Foster Father Onoh Ojukwu). When my Dad came out, he asked who they were? They said they were policemen.
 
“They told him that they were from Panti Police Station. They said that they came to arrest me and to search the house or I should go in and bring the phone. I said I don’t know where the phone and car were.
 
“ So, one of the policemen slapped me and my Dad said you cannot slap my daughter in my house and the policemen tried to enter the room from the passage,” she said.
     
But the  Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DDPP), Adenike Oluwafemi, opposed the line of evidence, arguing that she was giving evidence of the case instead of how her statement was taken.
     
She, however, said she was handcuffed and taken away from their sitting room into the police vehicle. “When I was entering the vehicle, I told my Dad to call my lawyer, our family lawyer, Mr. Egwu.
   
When asked if she could remember some of the questions the IPO had asked her, Ojukwu said that she was asked to state her name, where she is from, where she lives, how she met Ataga, how many days she spent in the apartment and when she left.
 
She said the handcuffs were removed in the morning of June 24, when Bamidele and Chris came to ask her to sign the statement.
     
After listening to her testimony, the judge gave the prosecution and the defendant counsel 14 days each to file their written addresses in the trial within trial.
 
The judge adjourned the case to January 11, 2023 for the adoption of final written addresses.