A police witness has told a Lagos high court sitting that Chidinma Ojukwu, the prime suspect in the murder of Usifo Ataga, the CEO of Super TV, had a sexual relationship with Onoh Ojukwu, her foster father.
This was just as a lawyer representing Chidinma argued that the embattled student’s confession was not voluntary.
Onwuka Egwu, Chidinma’s counsel, spoke at the court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) on Tuesday.
Chidinma is facing trial alongside Chioma Egbuchu, her sister, and one Adedapo Quadri before the court.
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.
The alleged murder took place at no. 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos state.
On the last adjourned date, Olusegun Bamidele (DSP), the ninth prosecution witness, narrated how Chidinma transferred the sum of N5 million from Ataga’s account to another account.
The witness told Yetunde Adesanya, the judge, how a handwritten statement by Chidinma was taken and how the second and third defendants were arrested.
Bamidele said that after Chidinma’s arrest on June 23, 2021, her written statement was recorded on June 24.
The witness said the defendant’s handwriting was not legible, so he advised her to write in block letters.
He said the defendant asked him to write for her and confessed to killing the deceased.
When the prosecution sought to admit the written statements of the defendant in evidence, Egwu 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.
Court probes claim Chidinma confessed under duress
The court, on Tuesday, commenced the trial within the trial to ascertain the voluntariness of the statement of Chidinma.
At the resumed hearing, Bamidele narrated how Chidinma was arrested and how she was interrogated.
During cross-examination by the first defendant’s counsel, the witness said he was in the second team that visited where Chidinma lived.
When asked about the day the first defendant was paraded, he said on June 24, 2021, at the state command in Ikeja.
Asked if he was aware that prior to the parade the first defendant and Onoh Ojukwu, her foster father, had an interaction at the commissioner of police’s office, he said he was not aware.
“Ojukwu was not kept in the cell, he was kept in a protective room and he received and escorted visitors at will,” he said.
“In the course of his staying with us, we stumbled on intelligence that there was an amorous relationship between the first defendant and her foster father.
“We also found out that the mother of the first defendant never approved the custody of the first defendant to Ojukwu.
“It was on this basis that we charged him to court alongside the three defendants at the Magistrates’ Court so that the court would decide if he can get bail, including one Babalola.”
Following Bamidele’s testimony, the case was adjourned until November 10 for the continuation of the trial within the trial.
Chidinma’s initial confession before retraction
Chidinma, who was a student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) before the case, was arraigned alongside two others on October 12, 2021.
In June last year, Chidinma confessed to stabbing Ataga “twice on the neck side” while the police were parading her.
The embattled student had alleged that the businessman forcefully had sex with her the first time but a dispute ensued after he attempted it again.
“I threw the knife to the bed and he was going for it but I also went for it. He dragged the knife with me and it broke and he fell on the floor,” she had said.
“At some point, he was chasing me around the kitchen cabinet. I took a knife and stabbed his neck. I approached the door and he followed me. I stabbed him twice on the neck side.”
In July 2021, Chidinma however denied killing the businessman in what became a retraction of her initial story.
Chidinma said she earlier admitted to killing Ataga because of pressure and the fact that nobody believed her.
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