BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
A Lagos State High Court on Thursday dismissed the claim that Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged murderer of the media entrepreneur, Usifo Ataga, was forced to confess guilt in her police statements.
Chidinma is facing trial alongside Chioma Egbuchu, her sister, and one Adedapo Quadri in Lagos over nine counts of murder, stealing, and forgery.
Chidinma and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021.
She was said to have confessed that she stabbed him several times in the neck and chest with a knife.
While she was being paraded by the police in 2021, she said the businessman had forcefully had sex with her the first time but a dispute ensued after he attempted it again, hence the stabbing.
When the prosecution sought to admit her written statements as court evidence, Onwuka Egwu, Chidinma’s counsel, objected to the validity of the document, saying the defendant didn’t make the statements voluntarily.
Consequently, Chidimma retracted her earlier admittance, arguing that the statements where she confessed were gotten under duress.
Chidima alleged that she was slapped and forced to sign statements she didn’t voluntarily make.
Meanwhile, at the resumed hearing on Thursday, Yetunde Adesanya, the presiding judge, ruled on the trial within the trial where the defendant had objected to the admissibility of her prior statements.
Adesanya said the prosecution proved beyond doubt the voluntariness of the defendant’s statements.
The court, as a result, admitted the two handwritten statements in evidence and marked them as exhibits.
“The videos tendered in court did not display any intimidation towards the defendant while she was writing her statement. The voice of the investigating police officer (IPO) was clear and audible. It did not show any form of intimidation,” Adesanya ruled.
After the ruling, Adenike Oluwafemi, the deputy director of public prosecutions, prayed for adjournment.
She said that the police officer who was still giving evidence before the trial within trial was not present in court.
Oluwafemi said the witness was out of the jurisdiction on official assignment.
Adesanya, however, adjourned the case till May 30 for the continuation of hearing.