Nkechi Mogbo, the owner of the short-let apartment at 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, where the body of Super TV CEO, Usifo Ataga was found, has explained why the details of Chidinma Ojukwu, the prime suspect in the murder case, was not captured in the facility’s logbook.
Mogbo, a witness in the case had last week narrated how different leads pointed to Chidinma as the prime suspect in the case.
Giving an account before the court, Mogbo had explained the mode of the transaction between her firm and Chidinma.
However, when the trial resumed on Monday, she was cross-examined by Onwuka Egwu, lawyer to Chidinma, who queried why there was no proper identification of the young lady prior to her lodging in the hotel.
Responding, Mogbo said Chidinma lied that she was just returning from overseas and only wanted to isolate due to COVID-19 protocols in place as her means of identification were with government officials at the time.
Also, Egwu asked if Mogbo was registered with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation but the property said no.
Also, Mogbo was asked if there was CCTV installed in the apartment but she claimed it was still being installed as of the time of the incident.
Onwuka Egwu reportedly did a cross-examination for Mogbo which lasted for almost three hours.
Meanwhile, Chidinma was not questioned but was arraigned before the court alongside Quadri and her sister.
The two defendants, Chidinma Ojukwu and Adedapo Quadri, are facing the first eight counts on the charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.
The third defendant, who is the first defendant’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu, is facing the ninth count charge of stealing an iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.
Last week, the apartment owner said she advertised her apartment on property websites like Airbnb for a short stay and had agents on the market that advertised for her.
“It is a self-serviced apartment, fully furnished with TV, DSTV subscription, internet, kitchen alliances, 24 hours power supply, and others.
“The only time we come to clean is just to take out the trash, that happens every two or three days,” she had told the court.
She added that when clients get access through the agents or via the websites, they get direct access to her for booking and possible negotiation.
“On June 13, it was on a Sunday, I was at home. About 4pm, I got a phone call from a private number, the first I ignored and the second I picked up. Then there was a lady who said she saw the apartment online and enquired as to whether we have the necessary facilities, to which I responded yes.
“She said she would like to have a look at it and I said she could. She sent a message on WhatsApp with the picture of the apartment obviously indicating where she got it from. I sent her the address and she confirmed she would be on her way to the place.”
She said she further put a call through to the security, Abubakar, explaining that the lady would be coming to see the place.
Upon checking, the lady, who identified herself with the name ‘Jewel’, said she would take the apartment for three days.
“She asked for payment details, which I forwarded across to her, within a couple of minutes, she sent the proof of payment of N125,000. It contained the initiator of the payment, Michael Usifo, from a GTBank account, the time and date of the transaction, and my name as the recipient,” she said.
The owner said following the payment, the security man handed her the key to the apartment on the same day.
“Two days after, at about 5:30pm – June 15, she was due to check out on June 16, I got a message from the lady that her friend would like to extend for three more days, and that he would be making the payment the next day, which would be on the 16th.”
She said at 10 am on June 16, she received a credit notification from the same GTBank account, confirming payment of N50,000 for two additional days by the same Michael Usifo.
“Hours later, I put a call across to my security man on a different issue, upon which he made a remark that they had noticed a body on the ground of the said apartment.”
Mogbo told the court she immediately started panicking but asked the whereabouts of the lady because the security man confirmed the deceased was a guy.
“He said she left the night before at about 7:30 pm to 8 pm and didn’t return. I got off the phone and tried to reach the lady. I put a call across to her but she cut the call, she then sent a message saying she was in a meeting. I didn’t want to alert her as to what I was aware of.
“I carried on, saying the payment which she sent in the morning, unfortunately, wasn’t credited; I told her, so can you make the payment again because I made a mistake to acknowledge receipt? She said she would reach her friend for him to make the payment.
“Couple of minutes after, I got another initiation of payment for the same sum of N50,000 from the same initiator, the person of Mr Michael.
“When she made the payment, I was already on my way to the property to get a proper understanding of what had happened, after which I went straight to the police station,” she narrated.
She further said she sent a message to the lady that she had received the initial N50,000 which she (the owner) claimed she didn’t receive, and that she had given the security man the cash of the extra N50,000, so she should pick it from him.
“I devised the means to lure her to come to the property, after the security had confirmed she left the day before. She sent a message that she would like to use the N50,000 for another two days.”
Mogbo further narrated that she filed a report at the Maroko police station, and police officers followed her back to the apartment to get photographs and a better understanding of what happened.
She said she wrote a statement and the police arranged for the body to be taken out to the morgue and took his personal items including the car as evidence.
She said she reported back to the police station the next morning, and they went to state CID, Yaba, where she met with the Deputy Commissioner of Police.
“I was made to write more statements and was detained for seven days, to assist with the case. During this time, I was interviewed, they collected different evidence.
“On the sixth night, I was called by the DCP to his office; there was a young lady present, two older ladies, and a couple of officers. He asked me if I could recognise the young lady and I said no.”
She said it was at that point she remembered she had a picture saved on her phone, and that she pulled out her phone and asked the lady if it was her, to which she confirmed yes.
“The security man, whom she was in contact with and always calling to put in the generator or pump the water said one day, she mistakenly called him with her number around 2:30am, after which she hung up and called with a private number telling the security man to turn on the generator.
“During the investigation, the security man passed the phone number as a possible lead. He saved the number and was able to get the photograph used as the profile picture.
“During the police investigation, when my phone record was printed, the same number also matched my incoming call number on Sunday 13th June, which the caller tried to hide, but couldn’t hide from the network providers,” she narrated.
Mogbo further told the court that the suspect, now identified as Chidinma, avoided calling with her phone number as the WhatsApp chat history between them was with a foreign phone number, registered as an American number.
She told the court that she provided all the chats between them and sent them to the police by email and also printed a copy while in custody.
Ataga was found dead with multiple stab wounds on June 16 at a service apartment on Adebowale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase I where he had checked in with his lover, Chidinma.
Chidinma, who was consequently arrested on June 23 over the murder of Usifo Ataga in a service apartment, said she was able to kill him because he was weak.
She confessed to stabbing Usifo with a knife under the influence of drugs and withdrawing N380,000 from the victim’s account with his ATM card.
She, however, recanted later in a video, saying she acted in self-defense.
Usifo, 50, was buried on July 30.
The duo of Chidinma and Quadri was also accused of committing forgery by procuring and making bank account statements purported to have been made by the deceased.
They were also alleged to have forged the United Bank of Africa account statement of one Mary from June 1, 2021, a passport and a driver’s license in Chidinma’s name.