The Lagos courtroom in Tafawa Balewa Square on Thursday was so quiet one could almost hear a pin drop as one of the principal witnesses, Nkechi Mogbo, chronicled what transpired at the time she met the prime suspect, Chidinma Ojukwu up till the moment that the remains of Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga was discovered.
The witness said that the 21-year-old suspect evaded every attempt to lure her back to the apartment after they found the lifeless body, including how she made additional payment of N50,000 from the deceased's account to cover up for the two extra days she booked.
Narrating how it all started, Mogbo, who is also the owner of the short-let apartment in Lekki Phase 1 told the court that the suspect called her up on June 13 to inspect her apartment, which she saw on property websites like Airbnb.
“It was on a Sunday, I was at home. About 4pm, I got a phone call from a private number, the first I ignored and the second I picked up. Then there was a lady who said she saw the apartment online and enquired as to whether we have the necessary facilities, which I responded yes.
Mogbo said that she further put a call through to the security, Abubakar, explaining that the lady would be coming to see the place.
Upon checking, 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 across to her, within a couple of minutes, she sent the proof of payment of N125,000. It contained the initiator of the payment, Michael Usifo, from a GTB account, the time and date of the transaction, and my name as the recipient,” she said.
The owner said following the payment, the security man handed her the key to the apartment on the same day.
“Two days after, at about 5:30pm. – June 15, she was due to check out on June 16, I got a message from the lady that her friend would like to extend for three more days, and that he would be making the payment the next day, which would be on the 16th.”
According to PremiumTimes, she said at 10 am. on June 16, she received a credit notification from the same GTBank account, confirming payment of N50,000 for two additional days by the same Michael Usifo.
“Hours later, I put a call across to my security man on a different issue, upon which he made a remark that they had noticed a body on the ground of the said apartment.”
Mogbo told the court she immediately started panicking but asked the whereabouts of the lady because the security man confirmed the deceased was a guy.
“He said she left the night before at about 7:30pm to 8pm and didn’t return. I got off the phone and tried to reach the lady. I put a call across to her but she cut the call, she then sent a message saying she was in a meeting. I didn’t want to alert her as to what I was aware of.
“I carried on, saying the payment which she sent in the morning, unfortunately, wasn’t credited; I told her, so can you make the payment again because I made a mistake to acknowledge receipt? She said she would reach her friend for him to make the payment. Couple of minutes after, I got another initiation of payment for the same sum of N50,000 from the same initiator, the person of Mr Michael.
“When she 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 narrated.
She further said she sent a message to the lady that she had received the initial N50,000 which she (the owner) claimed she didn’t receive, and that she had given the security man the cash of the extra N50,000, so she should pick it from him.
“I devised the means to lure her to come to the property, after the security had confirmed she left the day before. She sent a message that she would like to use the N50,000 for another two days.”
Mogbo further narrated that she filed a report at the Maroko police station, and police officers followed her back to the apartment to get photographs and a better understanding of what happened.
The witness said that she wrote a statement and the police arranged for the body to be taken out to the morgue and took his personal items including the car as evidence.
She also reported back to the police station the next morning, and they went to state CID, Yaba, where she met with the Deputy Commissioner of Police.
“I was made to write more statements and was detained for seven days, to assist with the case. During this time, I was interviewed, they collected different evidence.
Mogbo on Thursday made the statement after being sworn on oath and presented by Olayinka Adeyemi, the director of Public Prosecution, in the ongoing murder trial.
WuzupNigeria has reported how the two defendants, Chidinma Ojukwu and Adedapo Quadri, were charged eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.