Alleged murder: Chidinma Ojukwu’s trial stalled due to Lawyer’s absence

THE trial of the main suspect in the death of the late Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Michael Usifo Ataga, was postponed today due to the absence of Chidinma Ojukwu’s lawyer.

Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, subsequently adjourned till June 8 for continuation of trial.

Chidinma, a former student at the University of Lagos studying mass communication at the 300-level, is currently on trial with Adedapo Quadri and Chioma Egbuchu for nine counts of theft, forgery, and possible murder. The charges were brought by the Lagos State Government.

At the case’s resumed hearing, Adenike Oluwafemi, the deputy director of public prosecutions, informed the court that she had received a message from Ojukwu’s attorney, Onwuka Egwu, informing her that he was ill.

She stated that the lawyer also mentioned that because his junior lawyers were involved in other court cases so they would not be able to appear in the case.

However, Oluwafemi informed the court that her own witness who was to testify was present.

The lawyers for the second and third defendants, Babatunde Busari and P. O. Okpagbo, who were present in court raised no objection to the first defendant’s lawyer’s absence.

The case was subsequently postponed by Justice Adesanya.

At the last adjourned date of May 4, the court had admitted in evidence two handwritten statements made by Chidinma.

Justice Yetunde Adesanya held that the prosecution showed beyond a reasonable doubt that Chidinma made the statements voluntarily and without coercion in her decision regarding a trial within trial to evaluate the voluntariness of the statements.

Recall that Chidima, who was a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos at the time of the offence, is standing trial alongside one Adedapo Quadri, for the murder of the Super TV CEO, Usifo Ataga.

Both were arraigned before the court on October 12 last year.

The murder was said to have been committed in a serviced apartment in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

The duo were arraigned by the Lagos State Government alongside a third defendant, Chidinma’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu, on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, forgery, stealing and being in possession of a stolen property.

They all pleaded not guilty.

In count one, Chidinma and Adedapo are charged with conspiring to murder Usifo Ataga contrary to Section 233 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos 2015.

In count two, Chidinma and Adedapo are charged with the murder of Usifo Ataga, an offence said to have been committed by stabbing him several times in the neck and chest with a knife.

In counts three, four, five, six and seven, Chidinma and Adedapo are charged with conspiracy to commit forgery, forgery and making documents without authority. They were specifically alleged to have procured false Access Bank and UBA bank account statements of Usifo Ataga. They also allegedly forged an international passport and a driving licence In Chidinma’s name.

In count eight, Chidinma is charged alone with stealing two iPhones — an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 11 — as well as one Apple MacBook laptop and ATM card of Access and Guaranty Trust Bank belonging to the late Ataga from which the sum of N380,000 was subsequently withdrawn.

In count nine, Egbuchu was charged with being in possession of the stolen property, the iPhone 7 belonging to the late Usifo Ataga.

Usifo was found dead with multiple stab wounds on June 16 at a short-let apartment on Adebowale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase I where he had checked in with his lover, Chidinma.

She was consequently arrested on June 23 in her father’s house in Yaba and paraded at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja.

The deceased, 50, was buried on July 30 in a low-key ceremony attended by his family members, including his wife and friends.

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