We Found Ataga In His Pool Of Blood: Police Tell The Court

Police have told a Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafa Balewa Square, TBS, that they found the late Usifo Ataga, Super TV Chief Executive Officer (CEO), in his pool of blood.

Mr Ibrahim Isiaka, the investigative police officer in the ongoing trial of Chidinma Ojukwu, the suspected murderer of Ataga, revealed this when he took the witness stand.

He said that when the police got the information of the incident at the Maroko Police Station, Lekki, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), and the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) were the first to get to the scene and immediately called emergency at Yaba General hospital, which evacuated the corpse.

At the resumed hearing of the matter, the witness who was led in evidence in chief by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DDPP), Mrs A. O. Oluwafemi, said that on June 16, 2021, he was on night duty when a case of murder was reported, at the Maroko Police Station.

Isiaka, the sixth prosecution witness, who gave evidence before Justice Yetunde Adesanya, said that, on June 16, 2021, at about 11:30 pm, one Mrs Nkechi Mogbo (the owner of the service apartment where Ataga was murdered), reported the case.

He said that Mrs Nkechi Mogbo told the police that her security guard, Abu, had informed her that some people lodged at her facility, and when the cleaner went to clean the apartment, they discovered a dead body.

The witness also told the court that in Mogbo’s report, she stated that the security guard and the cleaner, after calling the occupants of the apartment and there was no response, forced the door open and discovered that a man was lying down in his pool of blood.

Isiaka, who said he had been in the Police Force for 28 years, said that based on the nature of the case, on June 17, 2021, the DPO said the case should be immediately transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti.

According to the witness, after the case file was transferred to Panti, a team of detectives from the Homicide section of Panti asked him to follow them to the crime scene, adding that when they got there, they discovered that things were scattered in the apartment.

He said, “The team headed by a chief superintendent of police, from Panti, found some items from the travelling bag of the deceased at the apartment and picked them for investigation.

“I went back to Panti, and from Panti, we went back to Yaba general hospital for the identification of the corpse. When I got back to Panti, I made a statement and handed it over. After I made the statement handed over the case file to Panti, and they continued from there.”

He testified that the corpse was brought out in a stretcher when he visited the mortuary.

“I discovered that there was blood on his back, the deceased was lying down facing up, that was when he was identified as one Michael Ataga,” he said.

However, the Prosecuting counsel, Mrs A. O. Oluwafemi, sought to tender the witness’ statement as evidence, but the second defendant counsel, Mr Babatunde Busari, objected.

Busari said that the statement was extrajudicial (a statement made outside the court), therefore, not admissible.

He cited some Supreme Court and Appeal Court decisions to back his objection.

However, the other defendants’ counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu for Chidinma and Mr O. A. Ogunsanya for Quadri, did not object to the tendering of the statement.

Justice Yetunde Adesanya, in a short ruling, said the objection failed and overruled it.

After the ruling, counsel for Chidinma cross examined the witness.

The witness explained that the case was assigned to him by the Charge room officer, adding that he carried out his investigations subject to the instructions given to him by the DPO and DCO.

After the cross-examination, Justice Adesanya adjourned the case until February 21 to continue the trial.

Chidinma Ojukwua a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, UNILAG and two others, are standing trial over Ataga’s murder.

The three defendants were arraigned on October 12 on a nine-count charge preferred against them by Lagos State Government.

Ojukwu and Quadri face 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 stealing the iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.

The first and second defendants were alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him many times with a knife in the neck and chest.

The alleged murder occurred at 19 Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Ojukwu and Quadri face the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.

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