Mr. Raman Saliu, a co-founder of Super Network Limited with late Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga, in the ongoing trial of Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged murder suspect of Ataga, yesterday, told the court that there were seven multiple stabs on Ataga’s neck. Ojukwu, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos is facing trial alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri, for Ataga’s murder.
Saliu, who broke down in tears while testifying before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of a Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, TBS, said apart from the seven multiple stabs on Ataga’s neck, there was one on the stomach; there were stabs on the two sides of Ataga’s ribs, the left vendicular to the chest. Saliu, who was led in evidence in chief by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs. A. O. Oluwafemi, said the deceased was tied up like a ram waiting to be slaughtered.
The witness, who is the fifth prosecution witness, said: “On Tuesday, I wanted him (the deceased) to come to the meeting to give him the completed task, so I started calling. My first call was at 11am on June 15, 2021.
I wanted to give him the brief that the task was easy in order to relieve him of the blood pressure.”I started calling him, he didn’t pick his call and neither did he return my message. I was surprised because the only thing he wants to hear is the billing App with MTN, that it was working now.
“Michael didn’t pick his call, everybody started reaching out to him because the only way they could get him is through me and the only way they can reach me is through him, he still did not pick my call, this was about 3:30pm, on June 15, 2021.”Then I got a WhatsApp message from him, after reading the message, I said to myself this is not Michael talking to me.
“I knew that was not Michael’s typing its someone else then I sent him a screenshot of the billing system in the Super TV App, that it’s working and his response to me was okay, great, that was when I knew something was happening because Michael will jump up pick up his phone and call me immediately.
“So, I went outside to take fresh air and I started thinking where he could have been now that he is not picking my calls.”I called Gambo, he is a driver and Personal Assistant (PA), to Michael and I asked him, did you receive any call from Michael? He said no, that he has also been calling him too because he needed to pick up his clothes from the laundry that he is traveling with to Abuja.
Unusual WhatsApp messages
“Gambo said he got a WhatsApp message, that was between 5 to 6pm, on June 15, 2021, then we started thinking of what could have happened to him, then his (Michael’s) friend Okwuedo, who lives with us at Victoria Garden City (VGC), asked where is Usifo, I told him I got a WhatsApp message from Michael so Okwuedo said let him see the message, immediately he saw it, he said this is not Michael’s typing.
“So, I started suspecting something was wrong because he was supposed to come to VGC on the 15th; so I had to raise alarm that I don’t know where Michael was.”Calls started coming in, I did not really know what to say, how can I say I’m looking for a 50 year-old man, to me it didn’t make any sense. I wanted to go and make a complaint at the VGC police station of a missing person, when at about 6:33 to 6:35am, on Thursday 17 June 2021, I got a call from Mrs Brenda Ataga, who happens to be his wife and she said where is Usifo?
How his wife called
Speaking further, he said: “Mrs Brenda Ataga, also called me and said there was a team of police men that I will meet at UNILAG, to conduct the search. I got to Unilag, before them, so I went to the security and told them I was looking for a black Range Rover, so they directed me to the guest house.
“The police joined me with two of his friends and a staff from my office. Mrs Ataga called me and was giving me the GPS coordinate from where the direction of the phone is. While going through Yaba, I got a call from our GTB bank account officer, whom I asked to help me trace Michael’s transactions, so that I can know where exactly he is.”While we were on the field I got a call from him that Michael made transactions on Sunday and Monday and the Sunday transaction was to a lady Mrs Nkechi Mogbo the owner of the service apartment, (where the deceased was murdered).
“The account officer also said that the transaction that was made on Monday was to Sterling Bank with the name Chidinma Ojukwu Adora. The account officer asked me what’s happening, I said today is his birthday and I have been looking for him since Tuesday.”So I told him that since the owner of the service apartment uses Gtb, that he should send me her number, so after searching through Yaba, the account officer sent me another number, so the police said I should give the number to Brenda so that it will not distract our search of Michael.
I fainted when I heard of his death
“Only for Brenda to call and told me that Michael is dead. I fainted, it took the Police to resuscitate me, when I was a bit ok, I called her and asked how, she is in Abuja and we are in Lagos, so she said she called the number I sent to her and the owner of the apartment said somebody was murdered that she should show his means of Identification if it was the person we were looking for.”
So Brenda shared her husband’s picture to the woman and the owner of the service apartment said this person was murdered here and she is on her way to the police station at Maroko, so Brenda asked me to meet Mrs Nkechi Mogbo, at Panti. So I met her with some Michael’s friends at Panti, so we went to the scene of incident at Lekki, where Michael was murdered.
“I didn’t want to believe that Michael was dead, I saw Michael’s belongings that the police brought out we were not allowed inside.”
However, Justice Adesanya, adjourned for the continuation of trial to February 17.