A witness in the ongoing trial of undergraduate, Chidinma Ojukwu, the prime suspect in the murder of Super TV boss, Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga, has narrated how family and friends searched for him but found his body five days later in the mortuary on his birthday.
Rotimi Albert disclosed this while giving evidence as the fourth prosecution witness, before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos High Court, sitting at the annex of the Tafawa Balewa Square today November 30.
Robert who introduced himself as a long time schoolmate and family friend to the late Mr. Ataga, said a mutual friend of theirs called him in the evening of June 16th and asked if he had seen or heard from the deceased, as no one had heard from him since Sunday (June 13th). The witness said he tried calling the deceased on phone on June 17, his birthday, but he didn’t pick the calls so he sent a WhatsApp message which delivered.
“I was surprised when he didn’t return my calls nor reply my messages. I started calling other friends to ask if anyone had seen him, even his siblings abroad called me to ask about Ataga’s whereabout. I told them I was also worried.
His wife and family were also looking for him because they were supposed to celebrate his birthday with him in Abuja,” he said.
The witness told the court that the wife to the deceased then informed the police about their worries. He said the phone of the deceased was tracked and it was noticed that the phone was last used at the University of Lagos guest house.
According to him, on June 17th, he and a mutual friend went there but didn’t find Mr Ataga’s vehicle at the guest house. He added that a phone tracker also indicated that the phone was used at the Alagomeji area, and that tracking became difficult because the movement kept changing.
“In the course of all these, we got a call that Usifo is deceased and in the mortuary. We, therefore, went to Panti police station, there we found out that the police had already visited the crime scene.
After going to the crime scene, the police told us to go to the mortuary to identify the body so we went and confirmed it was Usifo Ataga. At the mortuary, I observed that he was assaulted with multiple stab wounds on his neck, abdomen, his side and leg.
I also observed that his wrist had rope marks and deep indentations. That was how I got to know that my friend was deceased” witness said
The presiding judge, Justice Adesanya adjourned the case until February 14, 2022, for continuation of trial.