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Chidinma Ojukwu: A father’s nightmare compounded as he gets landlady’s quit notice

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Lawyers say case already jeopardised

For Ojukwu Okwara Onoh, father of prime suspect in the recent death of  a television executive in Lagos, his nightmare began on Wednesday, 23rd June 2021 when at about 10 pm, police officers from the Lagos State Force Criminal Investigation department (CID), stormed his Alagomeji, Yaba apartment to effect the arrest of his daughter, Chidinma.

Chidinma was being arrested in connection with the alleged murder of Michael Usifo Ataga, late CEO of SuperTV, who was reported to have gone missing from Sunday, 13th June 2021 until his body was discovered in an AirBnB apartment at Lekki.

The Ojukwu Onoh residence at Alagomeji, Yaba.

Ataga’s body was discovered with multiple stab wounds, while his ATM card and iPhone had gone missing.

When the police came on Wednesday night to arrest Chidinma, Ojukwu would have none of it and tried to prevent the police from taking her away. He was subsequently arrested, himself,  for allegedly attempting to “prevent the arrest of a suspect”.

Ojukwu was released from detention at Force CID, Panti, in the afternoon of Friday, 25th June 2021, only to meet a notice of eviction from his landlady, served on him by the caretaker of the property at Alagomeji, Yaba.

The landlady was obviously reacting to the unfortunate trend of events and not wanting to be associated with a tainted tenant issued the quit notice.

The caretaker, who simply identified himself as Mr. Tunde, who had been detailed earlier on Friday morning to serve the notice, effectively did so at  4pm when Onoh came in from police detention.

Our attempts to speak with Ojukwu Onoh, who hails from Abam, Arochukwu in Abia State, proved abortive as he was too distraught to speak but he sent word that he has just been released from detention and needed to rest.

A relative of his who was in the apartment when we called, politely requested their privacy.

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Onoh’s agony in the coming days will be shared alone. He had long been separated from Chidinma’s mum and had been taking care of Chidinma and her sister by himself. 

“Chidinma not our student”, students disagree

It has been established that Chidinma is a part time 300 level student of the department of Mass Communications at the University of Lagos, as her records are in the database. A staff at the department who pleaded anonymity simply dismissed questions to confirm her student status by emphasizing that the matter at hand is one between the state and an individual, and that the department is not connected to it.

Another departmental official who kept his identity undisclosed explained that the suspect has not been seen in the department nor attended lectures since pre-COVID in 2020 and that she had not partaken in the last semester examination as was confirmed by the records with the course adviser for 300 level. According to him, the university mandates that any student who does not undertake examinations for two semesters is not considered a student and as such, Chidinma’s student status is under contest.

Business as usual

The air around the department was calm as students who were seen around seemed not to show interest in discussing the incident as they went about their busy academic schedules.

When asked if there is a possibility that the alleged romantic affair between Miss Ojukwu and Mr Ataga stemmed from a meeting which involved a visit to the department by resource persons in the media, a reliable source from the department stated that the deceased had not been invited for any symposium, conference or inaugural lectures in the department which would have facilitated a meeting with the suspect within the department.

However, the class representative of one of the arms of the Mass Communications department stated that Miss Ojukwu had last attended classes about four weeks back and that she comes to school regularly. According to him, she was in school for her routine evening lectures and he had exchanged pleasantries with her. He described Chidinma as a quiet girl who did not display any aggressive tendencies around the department all the times he saw her. He explained further saying “I have only had discussions with her on school related matters and cannot really say much about her personality outside the school. She was quiet and easy going. She was not a loud mouth and I am surprised to hear that in the news but then, she has confessed and my perception about her will not change anything”.

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Describing her personality, Philip who is a 400 level student of Chidinma’s department says she usually maintains a calm disposition when seen around the department. In his words, “I used to see her around and from what I notice, she is very easy going and does not really associate with most people in the department. She is just a regular student with nothing extra about her. She dresses normally too and is always very calm”.

“Chidinma, a quiet girl”

At their Yaba residence, visitors are restricted from gaining entrance. A neighbour who, again, pleaded anonymity emphasised that Chidinma was a quiet girl who was always minding her business and focusing on her family in the absence of her mother who is said to be currently separated from her father. 

While investigations are ongoing, Chidinma’s father, Mr. Ojukwu Okwara Onoh who was released from police custody after resisting the arrest of his daughter yesterday, has gone home to battle with the shock and was greeted with an eviction notice from the house owner’s solicitors. Chidinma has been remanded at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba  where she is awaiting trial.

On Thursday 24th June, 2021, Chidimma Ojukwu was paraded at the Lagos State force headquarters, Ikeja, for allegedly executing the murder of Super TV CEO, Mr Michael Usifo Ataga. In a confessional statement by Miss Ojukwu, she recounted how she retrieved a knife from the kitchen of the serviced apartment which she shared with the deceased for some days, before the unfortunate incident occurred, and stabbed him severally. She has stated that she met the deceased about five months ago but had not had regular meetings with him.

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She had made a reservation for an AirBnb Short service Apartment in the Lekki area of Lagos where the late Mr Ataga had joined her for an arranged rendezvous. According to her, after a lot of alcohol consumption followed with some tough smoking, she got sexual advances from her companion which she tried to resist and a violent tussle ensued which resulted in the murder of the media CEO.

She was apprehended at her residence at Alagomeji, Yaba, where she lives with her father, who is a successful businessman, and her sister.

Case jeopardised?

Meanwhile, a cross section of lawyers expressing their views on social media, feel the police have already compromised the case by parading the suspect and getting her to make confessional statements without the presence of a counsel.

Sam Hart, an Abia State-based lawyer in a tweet said:

“I have refused to watch the video of a murder confession as a personal protest of this crazy practice of having people confess to a crime on camera after being arrested by the Police without access to their lawyer. This practice has no basis in our laws and jeopardises the case.”

Another lawyer, Nnamdi Ukamba, also tweeted:

“The “confession” is not even admissible in evidence. There is, in my opinion, no purpose to the charade. The most annoying part of the spectacle is the inane questions often asked by the journalists.”

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