The murder trial of Chidinma Ojukwu has been adjourned to Monday, 16th May following the change of counsel by one of the defendants.
Ojukwu is the principal suspect in the June 2021 murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga. Ojukwu was then an undergraduate of the University of Lagos.
Tried alongside with her at a Lagos High Court are her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri, on charges of murder, stealing and forgery.
During the trial on Thursday, counsel for the third defendant, J. I. Osaigede, who stood in for Mr O. A. Ogunsanya, informed the court that the Office of the Public Defender was no longer representing Egbuchu, the third defendant.
Osaigede said the defendant had written to them that she no longer needed their services.
The new counsel, Ngozi Akandu said he was just briefed about the case and needed time to go through the case file.
Akandu explained: “I was just handed the bulky documents this morning inside the court by the third defendant and I can hardly see or read the content.”
He noted that he was ill and pleaded with the court for time to take care of himself and familiarise himself with the case file to properly defend his client.
However, Justice Yetunde Adesanya said the counsel should have declined the offer to take up the case since he claimed to be ill.
The prosecution counsel, who is also the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Adenike Oluwafemi said the rule of fair hearing was that litigants were free to get any counsel of their choice.
On Tuesday, a police officer, Olusegun Bamidele, who serves with the Homicide Department of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Yaba, told the court how investigations revealed where Ataga and Ojukwu might have met before arriving at the crime scene.
“While I was investigating into the background, I and a friend of the deceased went to Angel Villa Hotel in Lekki”, Bamidele began.
He went on: “The owner of the hotel was approached and the story was related to him. Luckily, the hotel had CCTV which revealed the presence of the deceased and Chidinma at the hotel.
“After we tracked her to her home in Alagomeji (Yaba) and brought her to the (Deputy Commissioner of Police) DCP’s office, she was asked about her relationship with the deceased. She denied it initially and this prompted us to deploy the CCTV. She then agreed that she is the Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu we were looking for.
“We then took her in the company of her foster father, one Onoh Ojukwu back to the house in Alagomeji where we initially arrested her. We conducted a search of the house in their presence”.
According to the officer, the search yielded a maroon-coloured cloth that Ojukwu wore on the day Ataga was murdered.
“The cloth was stained with blood. Then Onoh Ojukwu shouted: ‘Chidinma, you have killed me, you have done something wrong outside’.
“We recovered Access Bank statements of the deceased. We recovered UBA Bank statements with the name Mary Johnson, an ID card with Chidinma’s picture but which carried the name, Mary Johnson. An international passport with her picture, a Uniport (University of Port Harcourt) certificate with Chidinma’s name boldly written on it, her phone, and some other documents I can’t recollect. We then went back to the office”.
Bamidele said that, at the office, Ojukwu said that the deceased was introduced to her by a friend at a hangout on Victoria Island and they developed a sexual relationship afterwards.
“I remember she mentioned a date, 12th June 2021. She received a call from the deceased that they needed to see and go out. Based on the request, she sourced for the apartment”, the officer said.
“She confessed that shortly after she arrived at the apartment, on the 13th, the deceased drove in, in his Range Rover. On his arrival, she said they were both hungry and drove out to eat and returned to the apartment, watched a film, and conversed leading up to sex. They also engaged in smoking Loud. On the 14th, they did the same thing.
“She said she initially came in with the Loud smoke. That’s the name she called it. After they finished it, they needed more. She recollected that she made a call to the second defendant, Quadri (Adedapo) who helped her source for the Loud and another drug called Rohypnol. She also mentioned that the items were brought in through a dispatch rider to the apartment”.
According to the police officer, the suspect described Adedapo as her drug supplier.
“The IPO asked her the potency of the drugs. She responded that a tablet is enough to knock out whoever uses it while Loud is a cigarette light smoke”, he added.
Bamidele said the event leading to the murder occurred when the deceased asked for more sex.
“She said she pushed him away, which resulted in him knocking her head against a stool that had a glass.
“Having sustained injury on the head and knees, there was a struggle between them and she said she managed to lay hands on a kitchen knife with which she stabbed the deceased on the neck twice. She confessed that she stabbed him severally without counting and the deceased eventually fell to the floor in the room”.
The police officer also narrated to the court how Ojukwu met the second defendant, Quadri.
He said: “When we interacted with the first defendant, she mentioned the second defendant, Quadri, and how they met.
“On the premise of this, we searched the call logs of the first defendant since she said she doesn’t know his house or address. The call log showed regular calls between both of them”.
He said they traced and arrested the second defendant in Surulere.
“During their interactions, he agreed to the request of Chidinma to assist her with preparing certain documents. The documents he assisted her to procure are a driver’s licence, an identity card, a UBA statement of accounts, an Access Bank statement of accounts, and a passport.
“The UBA statement of account carried the name Mary Johnson, while the Access Bank statement had Michael Usifo Ataga’s name on it.
“The driver’s licence has the picture of the first defendant on it with the name, Mary Johnson”. said the witness” Bamidele said