Court Admits Audio Conversation Between Chidinma, Security Guard Over Ataga’s Death

Chidinma, two others docked for alleged murder of Super TV boss, Court orders Chidinma to trial, Usifo Ataga’s murder

A Lagos High Court sitting in Tafawa Balewa Squre, Lagos, today has heard an audio recording of a phone conversation between Chidinma Ojukwu and the security guard Abubakar Mohammed at the rented short let service apartment where Michael Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer, of Super TV was allegedly murdered.

Ojukwu, is standing trial for offences bothering on murder, stealing and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.

In the audio recording, the court heard Ojukwu saying hello while Mohammed also responded by saying hello, who is this? the first defendant said its me, and then she asked the security guard about Ataga’s car.

She asked the security man “Is the car around? Which car? Mohammed responded. She said the Range Rover, that my oga car, the black Ranage Rover”.

The court also heard where Mohammed asked her why she hasn’t returned since on Tuesday night that she left, but she responded by saying that she went for a meeting, then he asked her how about the man, she said he was fine.

In the conversation the court further heard where Mohammed told the first defendant that as she was not around he could not go and knock on the man’s door, he then asked her if the man was alive, she told him that Ataga was alive.

He further asked her what time she was coming back she said I am coming, while she was saying I am coming Mohammed asked her to please use her number to call him so that he can have it, she said ok.

Earlier the Lagos State Deputy Director for Public Prosecutions, Mrs Adenike Oluwafemi asked the ninth prosecution witness, Deputy Superintendent of Police Olusegun Bamidele, to confirm his testimony of May 9, where he told the court about the security guard’s interaction and conversation with the first defendant.

Bamidele confirmed the evidence he gave before the court and how he had testified that the security guard transferred the audio conversation to his Infinix Hot 4, smart phone.

He said that the audio was attached to their office desktop and with the help of one of his senior colleague who is very conversant with ICT, it was burned into a Compact Disc.

Asked if he would be able to identify the CD, the witness said yes. When it was shown to him, he identified it and also told the court that he attached a certificate of compliance to the CD.

However the prosecution tendered the CD in evidence but the first defendant’s counsel Onwuka Egwu, objected to the tendering of the CD, on the grounds that Bamidele (PW9) was not the maker of the CD.

He said “The alleged maker of the CD, is Mohammed (PW2) and the prosecution had not made the required document of why this court will make do of a hearsay document when the author had already given evidence as PW2″.

Egwu cited Section 83 1 (a) (ii), 2011 of thee evidence Act and said ” The prosecution has not laid any of this foundation of the tendering of the document through Segun Bamidele.

“If the prosecution actually desire and want to rely on this document, PW2 ought to have been called,” he said.

Meanwhile the second Quadri’s counsel Babatunde Busari, said he had no objection as the document does not relate to the second defendant, the third defendant Egbuchu’s counsel C. J. Jiakponna aligned himself with the first defendnat’s counsel.

He said ” Due process must be followed this is a court of law, they did not lay the foundation the author of this document is supposed to appear before your lordship this is a hearsay”.

In her reply Oluwafemi said ” It is trite law that whatever the investigation Police Officer gathered as evidence is a direct evidence and not hearsay. Finally, admissibility is based on relevance”.

In a short ruling on the arguments of the prosecution and defence counsel, Justice Yetunde Adesanya dismissed the objection of the defence objection.

Justice Adesanya held that on June 16, 2021, PW2, gave evidence of how he asked the first defendant some questions and she answered.

” The maker of the audio recording has already been called to this court and there is no requirement of the presentation of the gadget, the evidence sought to be tendered stay and the objection is misconcealed and is hereby dismissed, I so hold”, she said.

The audio CD was marked as exhibit PW22A and the certificat of compliance marked as exhibit PW23B.

When the prosecution also sought to tender the pictures and made video recordings which was transferred into the Infinix Hot 4, smart phone, of the witness, by the IPO from Maroko Police Station, the first defendant’s counsel also objected that he was not the one that made the documents.

Consequently Justice Adesanya adjourned the case to October, 6, 2022, for continuation of trial.

On the last adjourned date on July 7, the case was stalled as counsel to Ojukwu, Egwu, was absent and applied to the court to vacate the date as he was stuck in Anambra State due to flight delay.

The three defendants were arraigned on October, 12, 2021, on a nine-count charge preferred against them by Lagos State Government.

Ojukwu and Quadri are facing 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 – stealing of iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.

Ojukwu and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife on the neck and chest.

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

The duo were also accused of committing forgery by procuring and making bank account statements purported to have been made by the deceased.