The fourth prosecution witness in the murder trial against Chidinma Ojukwu, the suspected killer of Michael Usifo, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, on Tuesday, narrated how the deceased’s body was found at the mortuary on his birthday.
The witness, Rotimi Albert, is one of the closest friends of the late Mr Usifo.
Mr Albert, who was meant to give testimony on Monday, stalled the continuation of trial as he was not composed to give evidence due to his travel from Asaba on Monday.
Giving evidence on Tuesday, at the Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, Mr Albert said the deceased’s family and friends searched for him but found his body in the mortuary on his birthday.
The witness said family members and friends last heard from Mr Usifo on June 13.
He told the court that he called the deceased on phone on June 17, which was his birthday, but got no response. He then sent a WhatsApp message which delivered but was also not responded to.
“I was surprised when he didn’t return my calls nor reply my messages.
“I started calling other friends to ask if anyone has seen him, even his siblings abroad called me to ask about Ataga’s whereabout. I told them I was also worried,” he said.
Mr Usifo was allegedly murdered by Ms Ojukwu, a 300-level student of the University of Lagos, at a short-let apartment at Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
Ms Ojukwu and the deceased lodged in the apartment between June 13 and June 16, when Mr Usifo’s lifeless body was found.
Witnesses, such as Nkechi Mogbo and Abubakar Mohammed, the owner and guard of the apartment respectively, have testified to the activities of Ms Ojukwu at the apartment, and her disappearance a night before the deceased’s body was found.
Ms Ojukwu was arraigned on a eight-count charge alongside Adedapo Quadri, for Ataga’s murder. Her sister, Chioma Egbuchu is also facing a one-count charge of being in possession of a stolen property.
Continuing in his evidence, Mr Albert said he is a long time school mate and family friend to the late Mr Usifo.
“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 reported to the police on the suspicion that he was missing.
“The phone of the deceased was tracked and it was noticed that the phone was last used at University of Lagos guest house,” he said.
Mr Albert said another friend who resides in Lagos was sent to check whether Mr Usifo was at the guest house not no trace of him was seen.
He told the court that the location of the phone kept changing, as it showed different places, including Alagomeji area, Yaba, Lagos, hence, tracking him became difficult.
“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, ” he said.
Mr Albert said at the mortuary, he observed that the deceased 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,” the witness said.
Following his testimony, the witness was cross-examined by Onwuka Egwu, the lawyer to the first defendant.
After cross-examination, the judge, Yetunde Adesanya, adjourned the case until February 14, 2022, for the continuation of trial.
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