BY BOLANLE OLABITAM
Chidinma Ojukwu, the prime suspect in the murder of Usifo Ataga, the CEO of Super TV, has claimed that the police tore two statements she wrote narrating what transpired between her and the deceased.
Chidinma is facing trial alongside Chioma Egbuchu, her sister, and one Adedapo Quadri before the high court at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) area of Lagos.
They are charged with nine counts of murder, stealing, and forgery.
Chidinma and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021.
She was said to have stabbed him several times in the neck and chest with a knife.
On November 9, Olusegun Bamidele (IPO), the ninth prosecution witness, narrated how Chidinma transferred the sum of N5 million from Ataga’s account to another account and how the other defendants were arrested.
Bamidele said that after Chidinma’s arrest on June 23, 2021, her written statement was recorded on June 24.
He said the suspect had confessed to killing the deceased.
Bamidele also told the court that Chidinma had asked him to help her write her statement after he advised her to write in block letters because her handwriting was not legible.
When the prosecution sought to admit the written statements of the defendant in evidence, Onwuka Egwu, the defendant’s counsel, objected to the admissibility of the document, saying Chidinma did not make the statements voluntarily.
The prosecution, in response, asked the court to conduct a trial within the trial.
At the resumed court session on Thursday, Chindinma insisted that she did not make the statement voluntarily.
She alleged that after two statements she wrote were shredded, she was forced to sign one written by Bamidele.
Narrating what happened after her arrest, Chidinma said she was taken to Razak Oseni’s office, a DCP, where police officers asked her a lot of questions.
“We went back to my house and back to the DCP’s office,” she said.
“At DCP’s office, he asked me questions. I told him that I don’t know anything about the death of Mr Ataga, that was when they made the video that was played in court.
“The DCP said I should make my statement. IPO Bamidele, therefore, took me to the interrogation room with Mr Chris, and gave me a blank statement form and asked me to write what happened.
“I started writing, Bamidele took my left hand and handcuffed it to the chair. I wrote what I narrated at the DCP’s office.
“While I was writing, Bamidele took the statement from me, read it and said it was not what happened.
“I told him, sir, what I am writing is what happened. I also told him that I asked my father to call my lawyer, he said my Dad cannot make a call that he was in custody with them. I then started writing the statement.
“When he took the statement from me and said this is not what happened. I told him sir, this is what happened. I received two slaps from the back from Mr Jemiyo.
“Jemiyo and Chris were sitting behind me, the only person facing me was Bamidele. He said “you are going to write the truth”.
“He tore all the statements I had written and presented another blank statement form. I told him sir, I was writing the truth, you tore it.
“He said if I do not comply, my family, my Dad, 10-year-old sister and my relatives will be charged with this murder case.”
The defendant narrated how officer Bamidele, brought out his phone, played the video of the scene at the apartment, and showed pictures of Ataga’s body.
She said that the officer took the statement form from her and wrote the statement for her and handcuffed her hands to the chair.
She claimed that when she read what Bamidele wrote, she protested because it did not accurately reflect what had taken place.
But according to her, the IPO responded “this is what you are going to say or else your family will be charged.”
“He read the statement to me again and told me to rehearse it, that tomorrow (June 24, 2021), I will take it to the CP’s office and say that’s what happened. He left me there, it was around midnight,” she said.
She said the officers came back in the morning and asked her to sign the statement.
After testifying in her trial-within-trial, the judge gave the prosecution and the defence 14 days each to file their written addresses.
The matter has been adjourned to January 11, 2023.
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