Ataga’s Murder: Court Dismisses Chidinma’s Objection

A Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, TBS, has dismissed Chidinma Ojukwu’s counsel’s objection to cross-examine a Bank staff over late Mr Usifo Ataga’s bank statements tendered as exhibits.

Justice Yetunde Adesanya, however, admitted the bank statements as exhibits.

Ojukwu is standing trial for the alleged murder of Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.

She is charged with murder, stealing and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.

The prosecution counsel, Mrs A. O. Oluwafemi, told the court that the prosecution had a representative from Ataga’s Bank who was in court based on a subpoena to tender the account document of the deceased.

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She however called the representative of the Bank, Mr Toafeek Lawal, to the witness box to present and tender the statement and certificate of identification.

After tendering the statement, the first defendant’s counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu, objected to cross-examine the Bank officer on the document he tendered.

According to him, Lawal is the account officer of the deceased as can be seen from the subpoena and certification attached to the account.

He, therefore, said that the Bank officer was not in a position to give evidence in respect of the account.

But the second defendant’s counsel, Mr Babatunde Busari, and the third defendant’s counsel, Mr A. O. Ogunsanya, did not object to the tendering of the account statements.

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Justice Adesanya, in a short ruling, said that Section 218 of the Evidence Act (EA) 2011 provides that a person whether a party or not in a cause, maybe summoned to produce a document without being summoned to give evidence.

She also said that Section 219 of the EA provided that a person summoned to produce a document does not become a witness by the mere fact that he produced it and cannot be cross-examined unless and until he was called as a witness.”

She said, “this officer of Access Bank has not been sworn on oath, therefore, can not be cross-examined.”

The judge, however, dismissed the first defendant’s application.

Afterwards, a Guaranty Trust Bank official, Mr Ademola Ayodeji, also tendered the bank statements of late Autauga before the court.

Consequently, Justice Adesanya admitted all the documents in court as exhibits.

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At yesterday’s proceedings, the prosecution had asked the court for a short adjournment to enable the prosecution put its house in order concerning the bank statements.

The three defendants were arraigned on Oct.12, 2021, on a nine-count charge preferred against them by Lagos State Government.

Ojukwu and Quadri are facing the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.

The third defendant, Egbuchu, is facing the ninth count of stealing of iPhone 7 belonging to the late Autauga.

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Ojukwu and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Autauga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife in the neck and chest.

The alleged murder took place at No.19, Adewale Oshin St., Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

The duo were also accused of committing forgery by procuring and making bank account statements purported to have been made by the deceased.

The case was adjourned till April 28 for the continuation of trial.

Wahab Akinlade

Akinlade I. WAHAB is a dedicated journalist and the proprietor of I-WAHAB Media. He embarked on his career at Murhi International TV (MiTV) and subsequently joined Radio Nigeria as a Judicial Correspondent.With a profound interest in legal reporting, he currently holds the positions of Chairman at the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), Ikeja Branch, and Chairman at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Radio Nigeria Chapel.As the owner of I-WAHAB Media, he has successfully established Top Court News, a platform renowned for providing comprehensive coverage of court cases and legal developments, with the aim of promoting transparency within the judicial system.Akinlade's diligent work and unwavering commitment to ethical reporting have earned him immense respect within the Nigerian journalism community.

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