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Owner of tragic Airbnb apartment claims no prior meeting with Chidinma or Ataga

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Image Credits: TVC News, Channels TV.

The owner of the apartment where TV executive, Usifo Ataga, Super TV Chief Executive Officer, was allegedly murdered, on Monday said murder suspect, Chidinma Ojukwu, did the booking with the name, Jewel.

She had neither met Ataga nor his alleged murderers before the incident.

Nkechi Mogbo testified before a Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square.

Chidinma Ojukwu in court

Ojukwu is facing trial along with her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.

Mogbo, who was being cross-examined by Ojukwu’s counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu, had told the court on Nov. 11 that she operated a fully-furnished self-service apartment like a normal house with cable television subscription, a 24-hour power supply and a well-equipped kitchen.

She also told the court that Ojukwu had booked and lodged in the apartment with `a friend’, a detail she repeated at the resumed hearing on Monday.

Mogbo said she could not collect Ojukwu’s International Passport for identification before lodging her because the defendant told her that her passport was with the Nigeria Immigration Service for purposes of COVID-19 isolation.

The witness said she did not ask for vaccination certificate because, “I didn’t think it was in my capacity to request for it’’.

“I was not privileged to know if she was a Nigerian due to the name (Jewel) and the foreign phone number she used while booking for the apartment,” Mogbo added.

The witness also said that when the payment for the apartment was made with Ataga’s name, she did not raise an eyebrow because payment could be made by a friend or family member.

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She said that Ojukwu sent the receipt of the payment through WhatsApp.

“I did not know who the initiator of the payment was; the defendant sent to me the proof of payment less than a minute after the payment was made; so, there was nothing to arouse any suspicion. If I did, I would have called the person for further clarification. I had no idea who the lady (defendant) was. I never met her before. I had no idea the reason she lodged at the apartment except what I was told. I was only running a business just like any other hardworking Nigerian,” the witness said.

The witness also testified that the guest at the apartment adjacent to where the alleged murder occurred, had indicated a week earlier of his intention to leave the premises on June 17.

Mogbo denied being the one that informed the guest to leave the premises after the incident occurred.

The witness said that it was when the police asked her to give information about the building that she mentioned about the other guests at the apartment.

She confirmed that it was at a deputy commissioner of police’s office that she identified the defendant through a picture on her phone.

Mogbo also said it was the True Caller App on her phone that brought out the name (Chidinma Onah) which the defendant used in registering the private number she had called her (Mogbo) with earlier.

She also said that the defendant did not inform her that she would vacate the premises for her friend when she asked and paid for additional two days.

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“When the body was found, my security guard called the defendant, she only said that she went for a meeting and would be back,” Mogbo said.

After the cross-examination, prosecution counsel, Mrs Adeyinka Adeyemi who is the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, told the court that she had no re-examination.

Justice Yetunde Adesanya adjourned the case until Nov.16 for continuation of trial.

The three defendants were arraigned on Oct. 12 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 iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.

The first and second defendants were alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him severally with a knife on 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.

(with agency reports)

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