The security man, Abubakar Mohammed, in charge of the service apartment where Michael Usifo Ataga, Super TV CEO was allegedly murdered, narrated to the court, Tuesday, how he recorded the conversation he had with Chidinma after the incident.
Mohammed, who was testifying before a Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, TBS, presided over by Justice Yetunde Adesanya, said Chidinman called him to ask about late Ataga’s Range Rover.
He said that after his madam, Nkechi Mogbo (the owner of the apartment), had gone to SCID Panti alongside the victim’s family at about a minute to 6p.m., which was a Thursday, Chidinma, who had been calling him with a private number, called him with her personal number.
He said that the call only lasted 10 seconds, and that he just said ‘hello’ and after about 10 seconds, she changed to the private number mode and his mind told him to record the conversation.
“I said ‘Hello, hello. Who is this?’ The first defendant (Chidinma) said ‘It’s me’.
“I asked her why she was calling me with a private number. She said ‘Sorry’.
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“Before this, she had asked me about the man’s car. She asked if the car was around.
“I said ‘which car?’. She said ‘the Range Rover. That my oga car; the black Range Rover,” the witness said.
However, the presiding judge, Yetunde Adesanya, stopped further proceedings on the matter when counsel said he had more questions.
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The judge pointed out that there were other cases to attend to. The trial continues Wednesday, 17th November.
Moreso, in his testimony, Mr Mohammed said he received a call from his ‘madam’, Nkechi Mogbo, around 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. on June 13, that a lady was coming to check the apartment.
He said shortly after, a lady arrived at the property in an Uber car and asked if his name was Abu, which he confirmed.
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Mr Mohammed said he showed her the studio apartment for short-let and explained that the toilet had an issue – the water doesn’t stop running.
“I gave her my number that if she needs anything, whether to put on generator or pump water.
“In the evening, around 10:30 in the night, one man came in a black Range Rover Jeep. My neighbour was doing party, so I thought the man came for the party. I asked him to park well, then the lady (the guest) opened the gate and said stop, he is my person, just open the gate, ” he said.
Mr Mohammed said while trying to open the gate, the man, who was later found to be Mr Usifo, asked him whether he could get water in any nearby shop and he said no.
“He went out with the lady and came back around 11:30 p.m. to 12 midnight. After opening the gate and the man parked, he opened his boot and took a pack of nestle bottle water. I offered to help him carry the water, he said no, I can go to the gate,” he said.
The security man said Mr Usifo and Ms Ojukwu stayed in the apartment from Sunday to Tuesday (June 13 to 15), but on Monday, a dispatch rider came to deliver a package to Ms Ojukwu.
He added that Ms Ojukwu always called him with a private line during her stay in the apartment when she needed him to do something for her.
“On Monday, around 12:30, Ms Ojukwu went out and bought some things like food. By 2:30 to 3:00 p.m, I was at the front of my gate, a dispatch rider came and asked me, is this number 19?.
“He said there is somebody calling me with private number but there is no way I can call back because I can’t see the number. I told the man there is a customer for my house that use private number to call me. I told the dispatch man if it is here, you can wait, the person will come,” he explained.
He told the court that Ms Ojukwu came to the gate minutes later to meet the dispatch rider and she collected the package.
“After she left, I asked him what he brought for her, and he said he didn’t know what was inside.”
Mr Mohammed further explained that on one of the nights, he received a call from a new number around 2:15 a.m., but the moment he picked the call, the caller ended the call.
“When the call cut, I saw her call with the private number, then I knew it was her the first time, so I didn’t pick. I just opened my door to start the generator because NEPA took the light.”
The security man said on Tuesday, June 15, at about 8 p.m., Ms Ojukwu went out of the compound, carrying a small bag, and never returned.
“Around 11 p.m. that day, my neighbour asked me whether I won’t sleep and I said I was waiting for the lady whether she will come back that night. But when I didn’t see her till 12:30 midnight, I went inside, locked my gate, and go sleep.”
He further said on Wednesday, around 12:30 p.m., waste collectors came to the street, and he called the cleaner, named Confidence, to collect wastes from all the apartments.
“She came back with few empty bottles and told me that the door to the studio apartment was open. I told her to allow me finish and wash my hands. I went to the studio apartment and knocked several times without any response.”
Mr Mohammed said peeping through the door, he saw that the position of the chair in the room had changed, and it looked like it was used to block the door.
He said he then peeped over the chair and saw a man lying on the floor, lifeless.
“I went out and called Confidence to ask whether she saw anything when she went into the studio and she said no. I said okay, follow me, let’s go up, and I showed her the body.
“I was trying to call my madam, but her call entered that someone’s money was due and he should leave the house by 12:30 p.m. I told her there was problem and there was a body in the house, she asked in which room and I told her studio room,” he said.
Mr Mohammed said the lifeless body looked like the man who drove and parked a Range Rover jeep, although he didn’t get a proper view of him the night he arrived.
He said following the report of the apartment owner to the police, the body of Mr Usifo was evacuated from the room and they were all called in for a series of interrogations by the police.
He added that the family of the deceased Mr Usifo came to the apartment the day after the body was found, but he refused them access, saying they had to call his ‘madam’ first.
He told the court he had earlier gone to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Panti, for interrogation over the matter and was held for a day.
After his release, he said he searched his phone to look for the phone number that called him around 2 p.m.
“I put the number on my WhatsApp, I changed my profile picture to President Buhari. I wrote a message on the WhatsApp number. I saw the picture and I screenshot the picture.
“I wrote a message; How far baby? She said who is this? When I replied her, she has removed her profile picture and did not open or respond to my last message,” he said.
Mr Mohammed sent the phone number and picture to the apartment owner, which was then forwarded to the police.
He said a week after the incident, he was called to go to SCID, Panti, that the suspect had been arrested and they needed him to identify the suspect.
Onwka Egwu, the lawyer to Ms Ojukwu, cross-examined the second witness following his testimony.
Mr Egwu asked who was the occupant closest to the apartment where the murder happened, with Mr Mohammed confirming that it was Babalola Disu.