Chidinma Ojukwu, the suspected killer of Usifo Ataga, Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, has told a Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, that the two statements she wrote to the police station were torn and she was forced to sign the ones written by the police officers.
Chidinma who testified in a trial within trial to determine the voluntariness of her statements defence told Justice Yetunde Adesanya that ASP Olusegun Bamidele wrote a statement, asked her to rehearse what he had written and made her narrate same to the Commissioner of Police.
Bamidele, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, who is serving with the Homicide Section of the State Criminal had testified as the first prosecution witness in the trial within trial before the court.
Chidinma who testified as the first witness in her own defence said that before she was taken to the Commissioner’s office, her hands were handcuffed from June 23, to the chair she sat until the morning of June 24, when she was brought out of the interrogation room and taken to Ikeja.
While answering questions from her lawyer, Mr Onwuka Egwu, Chidinma narrated to the court how the police officers came to her house in Yaba on June 23, 2021. She said she was in her room at their house at No 47 Akinwunmi Street Alagomeji Yaba, when her 10 year old sister came to inform her that there were men in the sitting room asking after her.
The witness said that she came out of the room into the sitting room and then greeted them, they then asked if she was Chidinma and she answered yes.
According to her, they asked where Mr Ataga’s phone and Range Rover vehicle were and she replied that she didn’t know.
“Immediately my little sister went to call my Dad (her Foster Father, Onoh Ojukwu), my Dad came out and asked please who are you? They said they were police men from Panti police station and they had come to arrest me and to search the house.
They again asked that I should go in and bring the phone. I said I don’t know where the phone and car is.
“One of the policemen raised his hand and slapped me and my Dad said you can not slap my daughter in my house and the policemen tried to enter the room from the passage,” she said.
At this point, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Adenike Oluwafemi, raised an objection. She said that Chidinma was giving evidence of the case instead of evidence on how her statement was taken.
Justice Adesanya then asked Chidinma’s counsel to guide her.
Chidinma went on to narrate that she was handcuffed and taken away from their sitting room into the police vehicle.
She said, ” When I was entering the vehicle, I told my Dad to call my lawyer, our family lawyer Mr Egwu.
“At the station, I entered the DCP’s office, Mr Razak Oseni, he was asking me questions along with other policemen then my Dad came and the DCP told my Dad to stop and allow his men do their job.
“We went back to my house and then came back to the DCP’s office and he started questioning me 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, Mr 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, and 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’m writing is what hapoened. Before I started writing the statement I told him that I had asked my Dad to call my lawyer, that he should please ask my Dad if he had called my lawyer. Then he said that my Dad cannot make a call 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 from 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, my 10 year old sister and relative will all be charged for 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. While writing the introduction of the statement, he asked, why I was being slow then I received another slap on my back.
“I told him that I was not feeling well that I needed to rest. He (Bamidele)said there was no time for that. Then he took the statement form, from me and he started writing and then Chris handcuffed both of 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.
“He read the statement to me again and told me that I should rehearse it that tomorrow(June 24, 2021), that I will be taken to the CP’s office and when asked that’s what I should say then he left me there that was around midnight.
“Bamidele came back in the morning, the next day with Chris and then he said sign this statement as I was being reluctant in signing, Chris said it’s better for me to sign because nobody is coming for me and that they will provide me a good government lawyer,” she said.
When asked if she could remember some of the questions the IPO had asked her, Chidinma said that she was asked to state her name, where she is from, where she lives, how she met Ataga, how many days she spent in the apartment and when she left.
She said the handcuffs were removed in the morning of June 24, when Bamidele and Chris came to ask her to sign the statement.
“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 into 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 to 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 door step of the CP, then when the CP asked me, I said the same thing that Bamidele had written.
“My Dad was in the second vehicle when we went to Ikeja. When I came down from the vehicle, I saw him with some policemen, he was handcuffed. My younger sister and relation were in custody”.
Asked if there was any recording at the CP’s office, Chidinma said she did not know if there was any recording.
She said that after her interrogation at the CP’s office, she was taken down stairs where she saw a lot of people (Journalists), with cameras, adding that as at June 24, she wasn’t feeling well.
When asked by her lawyer to tell the court what transpired when she made her 3rd statement.
Chidinma said, “After I was taken to the press, then we drove back to Panti. Then Bamidele said we are going to do a video recording, and he said say what you have been saying in this video and everything he had written in the statement then they recorded the video, which was played here in court.
“I was taken back to the cell, then in the evening on the same June 24, Oseni, brought me out from the Cell and took me to an office, where Madeyinlo and another female officer, Bola were.
“They told me to sit down in the office and then Oseni left. I was given a blank statement form and I was told to write, Madeyinlo said I came there to write statement just then Jemiyo walked in and I said ma, I have already written statement. I am tired and I have not eaten she said when I’m done writing.
“I was just seating and looking, then officer Jemiyo came beside me took my head and hit it on a wooden table before then officer Bola had walked away. Jemiyo said you are not here to play.
“I picked the pen, then officer Madeyinlo said I should start writing. I wrote the date, my name, she then tore out a paper that has a writing on it.
“She (Madeyinlo) started dictating to me and said that I should write what she said. I started writing but then I couldn’t write properly because I was having headache at the end of writing the statement she turned the back and asked me to sign,” Chidinma stated.
During cross examination by Oluwafemi, Chidinma affirmed that she signed the statements.
She also repeated that the second statement was dictated while the first was written.
When asked if she reported to anybody that she was slapped and that her head was hit on the table,
She said,” I did not report to anybody because there was nobody to report to. When asked not even the CP, she said yes not even the CP.”
After her testimony, Justice Adesanya directed the prosecution and the defence to each file their written addresses in the trial within trial, within 14 days.
The court then adjourned the case to January, 11, 2023, for the adoption of final written addresses, in the trial within trial.