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HOW I DISCOVERED ATAGA’S BODY – SECURITY GUARD

Abubakar Mohammed, the security guard, at the Airbnb Apartment where the CEO of Super TV, Michael Usifo Ataga, who was killed in Lagos, while giving evidence at the Lagos State High Court, Tuesday told a court what transpired the day Ataga and Chidinma came to the apartment till the day he discovered Ataga’s body.

Mohammed who happens to be the second prosecution witness in the murder case against Chidinma and the co-defendant Adedapo Quadri, works at the security post of 19 Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, where Mr Usifo was murdered.

In his testimony, Mohammed said he received a call from Nkechi Mogbo, who is her madam at the apartment around 05:30 to 06:00 p.m. on June 13th, telling him that a lady was coming to check the apartment.

He said shortly after, Chidinma arrived at the property in an Uber car and asked if his name was Abu and he responded in the affirmative.

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.

Mohammed said: “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 (Chidinma) opened the gate and said ‘stop, he is my person, just open the gate.’”

Mohammed said while trying to open the gate, Usifo, asked him whether he could get water in any nearby shop and he said no.

Mohammed continues: “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.”

Mohammed said Usifo and Chidinma stayed in the apartment from Sunday to Tuesday, June 13th to 15th, but on Monday, a dispatch rider came to deliver a package to Ojukwu.

Mohammed noted that Chidinma has this habit of calling him with a private number.

“On Monday, around 12:30, Chidinma went out and bought some things like food. By 02:30 to 03:00 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.”

Continuing hs narrative, Mohammed told the court that Chidinma 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.”

Mohammed said that on one of the nights, he received a call from a new number around 02:15 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.”

Then according to him, on Tuesday, June 15th, at about 08:00 p.m., Chidinma went out of the compound, carrying a small bag, and never returned.

“Around 11:00 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 continued his narrative and said that on Wednesday, around 12:30 p.m., waste collectors came to the street, and he called Confidence, the cleaner, to collect wastes from all the apartments.

He said: “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.”

He peeped through the door, and 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.”

Following the report of the apartment owner to the Police, the body of Usifo was taken away 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.

“On Thursday, at 06:00 p.m., Ms Ojukwu called me with a private number, and my mind told me to record the conversation.

“I said who, why are you calling me with private number, she said sorry. She said that jeep (Mr Ataga’s), is it around? I asked her which jeep? She said black Range Rover, that my oga.”

The security man said he asked whether she came with the man and she answered yes.

“I asked her she left on Tuesday night and never came back, she said she went for a meeting. I asked her what about the man, she said the man is fine. I then told her that I can’t go and knock on the door as she is not around.

“I asked what time she was coming back, she said she was coming. I asked her, use your phone number to call me so I can know your number, she said okay.”

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 02:00 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.”

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.

Onwuka Egwu, the lawyer to Chidinma, 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.

Following the cross-examination, the judge, Yetunde Adesanya, adjourned the matter till November 17th, for the continuation of trial.

 

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