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Ataga’s murder: Chidinma Ojukwu lied to hide his identity – Witness tells court

Nkechi Mogbo, the owner of the rented apartment at 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, where the body of Super TV CEO Usifo Ataga was found, explained why the details of Chidinma Ojukwu, the prime suspect of the murder case, was not recorded in the registry of the facility.

Mogbo, a witness in the case had told last week how several clues pointed to Chidinma as the prime suspect in the case.

Reporting in court, Mogbo had explained the modalities of the transaction between his firm and Chidinma.

However, when the trial resumed on Monday, she was questioned by Chidinma’s lawyer Onwuka Egwu, who asked why there was no correct identification of the young woman prior to her hotel accommodation. Responding, Mogbo said Chidinma lied she had just returned from abroad and only wanted to isolate herself due to the COVID-19 protocols in place as her means of identification were with government officials at the time.

Additionally, Egwu asked if Mogbo was registered with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, but the property said no.

Additionally, Mogbo was asked if CCTV cameras were installed in the apartment, but she said it was still being installed at the time of the incident.

Onwuka Egwu reportedly did a cross-examination for Mogbo which lasted nearly three hours.

Meanwhile, Chidinma was not interrogated, but was sued along with Quadri and her sister.

The two defendants, Chidinma Ojukwu and Adedapo Quadri, are facing the first eight counts of conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, drawing up of bank statements and theft.

The third defendant, who is the sister of the first defendant, Chioma Egbuchu, is accused of stealing an iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.

Last week, the owner of the apartment claimed that she advertised her apartment on property websites such as Airbnb for a short stay and had agents in the market advertising for her.

“It’s a self-service apartment, fully furnished with TV, DSTV subscription, internet, cooking alliances, 24 hour power and more.

“The only time we come to clean is just to take out the trash, it happens every two or three days,” he told the court.

She added that when customers gain access through agents or websites, they get direct access to her for booking and eventual negotiation.

“On June 13th, it was Sunday, I was at home. Around 4 pm I received a call from a private number, the first I ignored and the second I answered. Then there was a lady who said she saw the apartment online and asked if we have the necessary facilities, to which I replied yes.

“She said she would like to have a look and I said she could. He sent a message on WhatsApp with the photo of the apartment obviously indicating where he got it from. I sent her the address and she confirmed she was going to her house. “

He said he also called security, Abubakar, explaining that the lady would come to see the place.

At the check-up, the lady, who identified herself with the name ‘Jewel’, said she would take the apartment for three days.

“She asked for payment details, which I forwarded to her, within a couple of minutes, she sent proof of payment of N125,000. It contained the initiator of the payment, Michael Usifo, from a GTBank account, the time and date of the transaction and my name as the recipient, ”he said.

The owner said that after the payment, the security man handed her the key to the apartment the same day.

“Two days later, around 5:30 pm – June 15, he had to check out on June 16, I received a message from the lady that her friend would like to extend it for another three days and that she would make the payment the next day , which would be 16 “.

He said at 10 am on June 16 he received a credit notification from the same GTBank account, confirming that Michael Usifo himself had paid N50,000 for two additional days.

“Hours later, I called my security officer about another matter, in which he claimed that they had noticed a body on the grounds of the aforementioned apartment.”

Mogbo told the court she immediately panicked, but asked where the woman was because the security man confirmed that the deceased was a boy.

“She said she had left the night before around 7:30 pm-8:00pm and has not returned. I unplugged the phone and tried to contact the lady. I called her but she dropped the call, then sent a text saying she was in a meeting. I didn’t want to warn her of what I was aware of.

“I went on to say that the payment you sent in the morning was unfortunately not credited; I told you, so can you redo the payment because I was wrong to acknowledge receipt? He said he would contact his friend to get him to make the payment.

“A couple of minutes later, I received another payment request for the same amount of N50,000 from the same initiator, the person of Mr. Michael.

“When he made the payment, I was already on my way to the property to get a proper understanding of what had happened, after which I went straight to the police station,” she said.

She further said she had sent a message to the lady that she had received the initial N50,000 which she (the owner) claimed not to have received and that she had given the security man the extra N50,000 cash, so she should choose it from him.

“I figured out ways to get her to come to the property after security confirmed she had left the day before. He sent a message that he would like to use the N50,000 for another two days. “

Mogbo also said she filed a complaint at the Maroko Police Station, and police officers followed her to the apartment to get photographs and a better understanding of what happened.

He said he wrote a statement and the police arranged for the body to be transferred to the morgue and took his personal items, including his car, as evidence.

She said she went back to the police station the next morning, and they went to the state CID, Yaba, where she met the deputy police commissioner.

“I was made to write multiple statements and was detained for seven days, to assist with the case. During this time, I was interviewed, they collected various evidence.

“On the sixth night, I was called by the DCP to his office; there was a young woman present, two elderly ladies and a couple of officers. He asked me if I could recognize the young lady and I said no ”.

She said it was at that point that she remembered that she had a photo saved on her phone, and that she pulled out her phone and asked the lady if it was her, to which she confirmed yes.

“The security man, who he was in contact with and who always called to put the generator on or pump the water, said one day, he called him by mistake with his number around 2:30 am, after who hung up and called with a private number telling the security man to turn on the generator.

“During the investigation, the security man passed the phone number as a possible lead. He saved the number and was able to use the photograph as a profile picture.

“During the police investigation, when my phone report was printed, the same number also matched my incoming call number on Sunday 13 June, which the caller tried to hide, but was unable to hide from the providers network ”, he said.

Mogbo further told the court that the suspect, now identified as Chidinma, avoided calling with her phone number as the WhatsApp chat history between them was with a foreign phone number, registered as an American number.

He told the court that he provided all the chats between them and sent them to the police by email and also printed a copy while in detention.

Ataga was found dead with multiple stab wounds on June 16 in a service apartment on Adebowale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase I, where he had checked in with his mistress, Chidinma.

Chidinma, who was subsequently arrested on June 23 for the murder of Usifo Ataga in a service apartment, said she managed to kill him because he was weak.

He confessed to stabbing Usifo with a knife under the influence of drugs and withdrawing N380,000 from the victim’s account with his ATM.

She, however, later retracted in a video, saying she was acting in self-defense.

Usifo, 50, was buried on 30 July.

The duo of Chidinma and Quadri have also been accused of falsifying by procuring and making bank statements that were allegedly made by the deceased.

They were also accused of forging a Mary’s United Bank of Africa statement dated June 1, 2021, a passport and driver’s license in Chidinma’s name.

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