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Ataga: Court commences trial within trial

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The Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square on Tuesday commenced the trial within trial to ascertain the voluntariness of the statement of Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged murder suspect of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga.

Ojukwu, a 300-level Mass Communication undergraduate, of the University of Lagos, is standing trial for the alleged murder of Ataga.

She is also charged with stealing and forgery alongside one Adedapo Quadri and her sister, Chioma Egbuchu.

On the last adjourned date, the ninth prosecution witness, DSP Olusegun Bamidele, narrated how Chidinma transferred the sum of N5 million from Ataga’s account to another account.

The witness told Justice Yetunde Adesanya how the hand written statement of the first defendant was taken and how the second and third defendants were arrested.

Bamidele said that after the arrest of the first defendant, on June 23, 2021, her written statement was recorded on June 24.

The witness said that the defendant’s hand writing was not eligible, he advised her to make it eligible or write in capital letters.

He said that the defendant asked him to write for her and confessed to killing the deceased.

When the prosecution sought to admit the written statements of the defendant in evidence, Chidinma’s counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu, objected to the admissibility of the document.

Egwu said that the defendant did not make the statements voluntarily.

However, the prosecution prayed the court to conduct a trial within trial.

At the resumed hearing, Bamidele, narrated how Chidinma was arrested and how she was interrogated.

During cross examination by the first defendant’s counsel, the witness said that he was in the second team that visited where Chidinma lived.

When asked about the day the first defendant was paraded, he said on June 24, 2021, at the State Command Ikeja.

Asked if he was aware that prior to the parade the first defendant and her foster father, Mr Onoh Ojukwu, had an interaction at the commissioner of police’s office, he said he was not aware.

He said: “Ojukwu was not kept in the cell, he was kept in protective room and he received and escorted visitors at will.

“In the course of him staying with us, we stumbled on an intelligence that there was an amorous relationship between the first defendant and her foster father.

“We also found out that the mother of the first defendant never approved the custody of the first defendant to Ojukwu.

“It was on this basis that we charged him to court alongside the three defendants at the Magistrates’ Court so that the court would decide if he can get bail, including one Babalola.”

The case was adjourned until Nov.10, for continuation of trial within trial.

Ojukwu was arraigned alongside two others on Oct. 12, 2021, on a nine-count charge over alleged murder of Ataga preferred against them by the 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 facing the ninth count of receiving a stolen iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.

Ojukwu and Quadri are also accused of conspiracy and murder of Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife on the neck and chest.

The incident took place at No 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

benue news

Chinyere Omeire

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.

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