In a strange twist of fate, the Chidimma Ojukwu/Usifo Ataga murder case has taken a shocking turn.
Recall that Chidimm Ojukwu, a 300 level student of Mass Communications at the University of Lagos, was remanded in 2021 for allegedly killing the CEO of Super TV, Usifo Ataga, in a hotel room in Lagos.
Ojukwu was arraigned before the court alongside one Adedapo Quadri on an eight-count charge of murder, forgery and stealing. The state also arraigned Chidimma’s sister, Chioma Egbunchu for receiving stolen goods (Mr Ataga’s iPhone 7).
They have all pleaded not guilty and the case has been on trial since 2021.
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Meanwhile, just yesterday, during a trial-in-trial, Chidimma told Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square that the police officers beat her, threatened her, and forced her to sign the statement which was presented to the court.
She also told the court that the original statement she wrote which contained the actual truth of what happened was torn by the two investigating police officers, ASP Olusegun Bamidele, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Olufunke Madeyinlo, while they forced her to sign the one they wrote.
Chidimma made the following allegations while testifying in a trial-in-trial to determine if she made the confessions willingly or she was coerced.
The defendant told the court that the officers cuffed her hands to the chair, beat her with a wooden plank, and threatened to arrest her family members if she doesn’t write the statement dictated by the officers.
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She added that when she was too tired to write, they wrote the statement themselves and forced her to sign. She confessed that they also forced her to rehearse what to tell the press and the commissioner of Police.
Chidimma told the Judge, Justice Adesanya that the video circulating in public and playing in the court was coerced out of her and nothing but lies.
She said, “When I was entering the vehicle, I told my dad to call my lawyer, our family lawyer, Egwu.”At the station, I entered the DCP’s office (Razak Oseni) he was asking me questions along with other policemen then my dad tried to stop him but the DCP told my dad to allow his men to do their job.
“We went back to my house and then came back to the DCP’s office and he started questioning me again and then 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 then, the IPO, Bamidele took me to the interrogating room with Mr Chris, and then gave me a blank statement form and asked me to write what happened.
“I started writing then he (Bamidele) took my left hand and handcuffed it to the chair. I wrote what I said at the DCP’s office, in the middle of writing the statement Mr Bamidele took the statement from me and read through it and said this is not what happened.
“I told him, sir, what I am writing is what happened. Before I started writing the statement I told him that I had asked my dad to call my lawyer and that he should please ask my dad if he had called my lawyer but he said that my dad cannot make a call and that he was in the custody with them that was when I 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 and that is what I am writing, I received two slaps on the back from Mr. Jemiyo.
“It was Jemiyo and Chris that were sitting at the back and the only person that was 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 and you tore it. He said if I did not comply that my family, my dad, 10-year-old sister and relative will be charged with this murder case.
“He (Bamidele), brought out his phone, played the video of the scene of the apartment and he showed pictures of Mr. Ataga’s body. He said now you are going to write, then I started writing at the introduction of the statement, he said why are my being slow, then I received another slap on my back.
“I told him that I was not feeling well and that I needed to rest. He (Bamidele) said there was no time for that. Then he took the statement form from me and started writing and then Chris handcuffed both my hands to the chair.
“At the beginning of the statement, he asked me questions and then stopped after he was done writing. He read the statement to me and I told him this is not what happened. He said this is what you are going to say or else my family will be charged.
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“He read the statement to me again and told me that I should rehearse it so that tomorrow (June 24, 2021), I will be taken to the CP’s office when asked, that’s what I should say, then he left me there around midnight.
“Bamidele came back in the morning, the next day with Chris and then he asked me to sign the statement, as I was being reluctant in signing, Chris said I should sign because nobody is coming for me and that they will provide me with a good government lawyer.
“After the signing of the statement I was brought out of the interrogation room, they gave me water to wash my face, then we entered the vehicle and they drove to Ikeja.
“When we arrived at Ikeja the other police officers came down and it was just me and Bamidele that was in the vehicle. Then he asked do I read the statement for you again? He read it again and told me to narrate it. After the narration, he said, that is what you will say to the commissioner of police.
“Bamidele took me to the doorstep of the CP, then when the CP asked me, I said the same thing that Bamidele had written,” she stated.
The case has been adjourned to January 11, 2023.