A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Chidinma Ojukwu has told the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square that the body of Usifo Ataga was discovered by the security guard at the short service apartment where they lodged.
The witness, Nkechi Mogbo, who owned the short service apartment, also told the court that Chidinma Ojukwu was the one who booked the facility but that it was paid for by the deceased through his debit card.
The 22-year-old 300-level mass communication student of the University of Lagos was docked before the court alongside Adedapo Quadri on an eight-count charge bordering on the offences of murder, forgery and stealing.
The state also arraigned Chidinma’s sister, Egbuchu Chioma, from whom the late Ataga’s iPhone 7, was said to have been recovered on one count.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Mogbo, who testified as the first prosecution witness, told the trial judge, Justice Yetunde Adesanya, that she sold female shoes and had a self-service apartment, which she usually rented out as short service accommodation.
According to the witness, the apartment is fully furnished like a normal house with a cable TV subscription, 24-hour power services and a well-equipped kitchen.
Mogbo claimed that couples, workers, students and people from out of town who come in for weddings were the categories of people who book the apartment, saying it could be booked online or through referrals from agents.
The witness also told the court that Chidinma left the service apartment before the end of the billed day.
Mogbo, who was led in evidence in chief by the director of public prosecution (DPP), Mrs Adeyinka Adeyemi, said she got a call from a private number on June 13, 2021, requesting a shortlet service apartment.
Mogbo testified that the first defendant told her that she would reach out to her friend to make the payment, adding that a few minutes later she got another N50,000, from the same initiator, from the same account belonging to Mr Michael Ataga.
The witness narrated how she was taken to Panti police station and how she stayed for seven days in custody to help the police conduct a proper investigation.
She also narrated how she could not identify Chidinma Ojukwu when she was brought to the station, adding that it was through the aid of a picture she got from her phone that enabled her to identify the suspect.
The witness said her conversations with the suspect were done through WhatsApp so she printed out the conversations and also sent them as an email to the police.
The prosecutor, Mrs Adeyinka Adeyemi who is the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), that led the witness in evidence, however, tendered the printed copy of the WhatsApp conversation as evidence.
Counsel to the first defendant, Onwuka Egbu, objected to the admissibility of such a document, saying “it is a public document which must be certified before it can be used as evidence”.
After the argument of counsels, Justice Yetunde Adesanya overruled the argument of the defendant counsel and admitted the document as evidence.
However, Egbu, asked for an adjournment to enable him to study the documents and to prepare for the cross-examination of the witness.
Justice Adesanya then adjourned the case to November, 15 for the continuation of trial.