How Ataga’s Body was Found, Guard Tells Court

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The security guard at the apartment where the murdered Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Michael Ataga, was found has narrated how he found Ataga’s remains.

Chidinma, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, was accused of killing Ataga.

The undergraduate and two others, Adedapo Quadri and Chioma Egbuchu, are facing trial before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos State.

The security guard, Abubakar Mohammed, who works at the security post of 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, where Ataga was murdered, is the second prosecution witness.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Mohammed said he received a call from his boss, Nkechi Mogbo, around 5.30pm on June 13 that a lady was coming to check the apartment.

According to him, a lady later arrived at the property and he showed her the studio apartment for short-let.

“Around 10.30pm, one man came in a black Range Rover Jeep. My neighbour was hosting a party, so I thought the man came for the party.

“I asked him to park well, then the lady opened the gate and said’ stop, he is my person, just open the gate,’” he said.

The security man said Ataga and Chidinma stayed in the apartment from June 13 to 15 but on Monday, a dispatch rider came to deliver a package to Chidinma.

“On Monday, around 12.30pm, Ms Ojukwu went out and bought some things like food. Between 2.30pm and 3pm, I was at the front of my gate, a dispatch rider came and asked me, is this number 19?

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“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 in my house that uses a private number to call me. I told the dispatch man ‘if it is here, you can wait, the person will come,’” Mohammed explained.

He 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,” he added.

The security man said on June 15, at about 8pm, Chidinma went out of the compound, carrying a small bag, and never returned.

Mohammed said the next day, waste collectors came to the street, and he called the cleaner, Confidence, to collect waste from all the apartments.

He continued, “She came back with few empty bottles and told me that the door to the studio apartment was open. I knocked several times without any response.

“Peeping through the door, I saw that the position of the chair in the room had changed, and it looked like it was used to block the door. I then peeped over the chair and saw a man lying on the floor, lifeless.

“I went out and called Confidence, then I showed her the body. I was trying to call my madam, but her call came in that someone’s money was due and he should leave the house by 12.30pm. I told her there was a problem and there was a body in the studio room.”

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He said following Mogbo’s report to the police, Ataga’s body was evacuated from the room and they were all called in for interrogation by the police, adding that Ataga’s family 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 6pm, Ms Ojukwu called me with a private number, and my mind told me to record the conversation.

“I said, ‘why are you calling me with a private number?’, she said sorry. She said ‘that jeep, is it around?’ I asked her which jeep? She said black Range Rover.

“I asked her why 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 asked what time she was coming back but she said she was coming. I then asked her to use her phone number to call me and she said okay,” he said.

He told the court he had gone to the State Criminal Investigation Department, 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 2pm.

“I put the number on my WhatsApp and changed my profile picture to President Buhari. I wrote a message on the WhatsApp number. I saw the picture and I screenshot it,” he added.

Mohammed stated that he sent the phone number and picture to the apartment owner, which was then forwarded to the police.

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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 her.

Onwuka Egwu, the first defendant’s counsel, cross-examined Mohammed following his testimony.

After the cross-examination, the judge adjourned the matter till November 17, for continuation of trial.

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