Ataga: Chidinma’s sister gets new counsel, rejects OPD’s legal representation
Proceeding at the ongoing trial of Chidinma Ojukwu, her sister, Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri over murder of Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga, was stalled yesterday, following the withdrawal of the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) from representing Egbuchu (the third defendant).
At the resumed trial of the matter yesterday, Chioma’s counsel, Mrs, J. I. Osaigede, who stood in for Mr. O. A. Ogunsanya told Justice Yetunde Adesanya that the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) was no longer representing Egbuchu in the murder trial.
Osaigede told the court that OPD was no longer representing Egbuchu (the third defendant) as she had written to them that she no longer needs their services.
However, the new counsel Ngozi Akandu, who announced his appearance for the third defendant, told the court that he had just been briefed about the case on May 11. He told the court that he needed time to go through the case file.
Akandu told the court that he was given the documents in the morning (Thursday May 12), inside the court by the third defendant (Egbuchu). He added that the document that she got from her former counsel was not eligible.
He said: “I can’t see anything, they are so vague. 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 of the clearer copies of the proof of evidence, so that I can come in properly.”
The prosecution counsel and Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DDPP), Mrs. Adenike Oluwafemi, in her response did not object, stressing that the rule of fair hearing, clearly stated that litigants are free to get any counsel of their choice.
Also, the first defendant’s counsel Mr. Onwuka Egwu, said he was not objecting to the third defendant’s application.
The second defendant’s counsel, Mr. Babatunde Busari said: “In the interest of justice, he will concede to their request, but they should tidy their house before the next adjourned date.”
The trial judge subsequently adjourned till May 16, for continuation of trial.
At last proceeding, the ninth prosecution witness, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Olusegun Bamidele, had in his testimony told the court, how Chidinma Ojukwu and the deceased Usifo Ataga met.
Bamidele said that during investigations, Chidinma’s phone was tracked which led to her arrest. Upon arrest, she was questioned by investigating police team.
He said that Chidinma initially denied not knowing the deceased, but eventually admitted that she was introduced to the deceased through her friend Fiyin, who was dating Ataga’s friend, Tony. They struck a relationship, which became sexual with time.
Chidinma and others were arraigned on October 12, 2021, on a nine-count charge preferred against them by Lagos State Government.
Ojukwu and Quadri are facing the first to eight counts, bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.
The third defendant, Egbuchu, is charged for stealing an iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.
Ojukwu and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife on the neck and chest at 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.