A mild drama occurred on Tuesday at the arraignment of Chidinma Ojukwu charged with murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Mr Usifo Ataga.
Ojukwu – a third year Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos – and one Quadri Adedapo were arraigned before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, on Lagos Island.
They were arraigned on a nine-count charge alongside Ojukwu’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu, from whom the late Ataga’s iPhone 7 was alleged to have been recovered.
When the court registrar read count one – conspiracy to murder – to Ojukwu and Adedapo, Ojukwu pleaded not guilty, while Adedapo pleaded guilty before pleading not guilty.
Registrar: “Are you guilty or not guilty?”
Realising his error, he quickly changed his plea to not guilty.
The charge was dated August 31, and filed by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi.
Ojukwu, 21, and Adedapo are the first and second defendants in the suit.
They are defendants in counts one to seven, while Ojukwu is the sole defendant in count eight.
Egbuchu is a defendant only in count nine.
In count one, Ojukwu and Adedapo are charged with conspiring to murder Ataga, contrary to Section 233 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
In count two, the duo is charged with Ataga’s murder.
They allegedly stabbed him several times on the neck and chest with a knife.
In counts 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, the duo is charged with conspiracy to commit forgery, forgery and making documents without authority.
They are specifically alleged to have procured false Access and UBA bank account statements of Ataga.
They also allegedly forged an international passport and a driver’s licence in Ojukwu’s name.
In count eight, Ojukwu is charged alone with stealing two iPhones – iPhone 7 and iPhone 11 – one Apple MacBook Laptop and Automatic Teller Machine cards of Access Bank and GTBank, belonging to the late Ataga from which the sum of N380,000 was subsequently withdrawn.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 a stolen property, the iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.
Ojukwu allegedly murdered Ataga in an apartment at Lekki, Lagos State.
According to prosecution, the offences contravene Sections 411, 233, 365 (2)b, 280, 329 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
Ojukwu, Adedapo and Egbuchu, however, pleaded not guilty.
Mr O. Egwu appeared for Ojukwu, Mr Babatunde Busari announced appearance for Adedapo, while the Director, Office of the Public Defender, Dr Babajide Martins, appeared for Egbuchu.
Justice Adesanya remanded the first and second defendants in prison custody.
Following an unopposed application by Martins, the judge allowed Egbuchu to continue on the bail granted her by a Magistrates’ Court.
She adjourned the case until November 9 for trial.
According to prosecution, 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 Ojukwu.
Ojukwu was consequently arrested on June 23 in her father’s house at Yaba, Lagos.
The 50-year-old deceased was buried on July 30.
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