BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
One of the receptionists at Hilton Hotel, Ile-Ife, Osun State, where Timothy Adegoke, a postgraduate student of the Obafemi Awolowo University was allegedly murdered, Miss Magdalene Chiefuna on Wednesday revealed to the Osun State High Court, Osogbo how the lifeless body of Adegoke was discovered inside his hotel room.
Chiefuna, an undergraduate of OAU, who was working as a receptionist at the hotel to support herself financially, informed the court that the room 305 which Adegoke lodged was locked when she took over duty on November 6, 2021. She said the door to the room was knocked severally when Adegoke wasn’t seen but there was no response.
She explained that she had to use a spare key to open Adegoke’s room before she discovered his body lying on the floor and wrapped in duvet. She added that the deceased’s phone was ringing repeatedly and that he wasn’t conscious to discover that his phone was ringing.
Chiefuna, who is one of the seven defendants standing trial over allegations of murder, conspiracy, oath taking and tampering with dead body among others leveled by the Federal Government of Nigeria, disclosed that after Adegoke’s body was discovered in the room, the hotel manager, Mr Adeniyi Aderogba (third defendant), later went into the room, raised the deceased’s hand and told her he had died.
While being led in evidence by her counsel, Kayode Adegoke, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chiefuna explained to the court that Adegoke she didn’t know anything about the allegation of murder leveled against her adding that after the body was discovered, Roheem Adedoyin, a son to Dr Raymond Adedoyin, the owner of the hotel, gathered her and other hotel workers on duty and conducted an oath of confidentiality on them.
According to her, Roheem asked them to swear with the Holy Bible that no one would divulge that a dead body was found in the hotel room. She said the oath was conducted, according to Roheem, to save the name and image of the hotel.
Her words, “On 6th of November, 2021, I resumed duty at Hilton Hotel, Ile-Ife, at 12noon. The receptionist I took over from was Miss Adesola Adedeji (the seventh defendant), when I got to work, she told me that there are two guests that will be retaining their rooms for the day. She also told me that out of the payments for the two rooms, she had spent part of the money to buy diesel that morning.
“So, she (Adesola) transfered the balance of the money to the manager, Mr Adeniyi Aderogba, who was the manager on duty with me that day. She handed over the account book to me and some of the keys. After that, she left the hotel. During the course of my duty that day, I saw and confirmed the person in the room of N12,500. A male. But I didn’t see the person that was in the N18,500 room (Room 305). I checked the room but the door was locked. So, I assume the person had gone out since the key wasn’t with us and the house-keeper, when he came to return the rooms he had cleaned also told me that he was not able to clean room 305 because he wasn’t with the key and that it was locked.
“Later in the day, I called the manager’s attention to the fact that the guest (Adegoke) that was supposed to be in the room, I have not seen him and I asked him (manager) to go and check in case the person had come back. He went upstairs to the room and came back and told me he had knocked and that there was no response that the door was locked. That was about 4 to 5pm. Then, at night, I still complained the same thing to him and asked him to go and check in case the person has gone upstairs without our notice, maybe when we went to attend to other guests. He (manager) came down and told me the same thing that he had knocked and there was no response and he said that he (Adego) is still going to come back since the key was with him and it’s not a strange thing for guest to go out and come back anytime they want.
“Up until when I was about to close the account by 12midnight (entering to November 7, 2021) for the night, I asked him (manager) again to check and he returned and told me the same thing. He said maybe he went clubbing or outing.
“After closing the account, I went to sleep. The following morning, around 8:00am, the manager came to meet me that he is going out, that he had a meeting to attend. I asked him to go and check that room that we didn’t see the guest throughout the previous day, he went to the room and came back to tell me that nobody was answering the knocks. I was in the reception and around 10am on the 7th November, 2021, the receptionist that was supposed to be on duty on that Sunday, in person of Esther Asigo arrived at the hotel, so, I began to hand over to her a bit by telling her the possible people that may retain the rooms that day and I told her that there was a guest we didn’t see throughout the previous day.
“She (Esther) asked if we checked the room, and I said yes that we knocked several times and there was no response. She asked if we tried opening the room and I said no since it’s not as if the person’s money has expired. After that, I called the house-keeper, Mr Cletus and asked him to check their store if he has spare key to the room 305 since the spare keys are kept in the house-keeper’s store. As he went to check, I took the account book, checked it and took the phone number of the guest (Adegoke) and dialed it, it rang, but there was no response.
“By this time, Cletus came back and told me he has seen the spare key to room 305, I took it and went upstairs, I opened the door and as I entered, I perceived some kind of odour in the room. I thought maybe because the room wasn’t cleaned the previous day. I saw a laptop plugged to the wall and dropped on top of the couch in the sitting room, there was a drug on top of the table, paracetamol and another drug under it which I didn’t see clearly. I saw some naira notes of smaller denominations. I went to the bedroom. As I got to the bedroom, I saw a person lying down facing up, covered with duvet from neck down.
“A phone was beside him ringing. I tapped his leg because it looked like he was sleeping to wake him up but he wasn’t waking up. I got scared and left the room but as I was leaving the room, I saw the key to the room inserted at the door from inside. I locked the room from outside. I called the manager and told him that the room we didn’t see the occupant the previous day, that I got the spare key from the room from the house-keeper and I checked the room and I found somebody and I don’t know the person’s condition. He told me he would be on his way. When I got to the reception, Esther saw my expression and asked me what happened, I told her that I found someone in the room and I don’t know the person’s condition. She took the key from me and went upstairs to the room. She returned and I asked her what she thinks, she said she doesn’t know that we should wait for the manager.
“When the manager arrived, he went to the room with the key and I followed. I stood beside the fridge and didn’t enter the bedroom because I was scared. The manager tried to wake him (Adegoke) up also and he lifted up his arm and dropped it and said this person (Adegoke) is dead. We left the room and went back to the reception. The manager said he would call the chairman to inform him of what has happened. He was speaking in Yoruba. I didn’t know what exactly he was saying but I assumed he was telling him about what happened.
“The MD, Mr Roheem Adedoyin, arrived at the hotel and he and the manager went upstairs to the room and when they came back to the reception, the MD asked us what happened and we explained to him. After that, he said me and Mr Adeniyi and the manager who were on duty the previous day can go home, refresh up and come back to the hotel. But I said I wasn’t feeling fine, that I will stay back at the hotel and see what is going to be done. He (Roheem) came to meet me and Esther and asked us if there was a Bible at the reception, we said yes. He took it and asked us to come to the MD’s office, when we got to the office, the MD said we are going to swear an oath of confidentiality. This was happening between 8 and 8:30pm. So, after, I left the hotel and I went home.
“The next time I was at that particular branch of the Hilton Hotel was Wednesday, November 10, 2021. I was arrested on November 12, 2021 by the police,” he said in his examination in Chief.
During cross examination by the prosecution counsel, Femi Falana, SAN, Chiefuna said he wasn’t aware of how Adegoke died nether did she know what killed him. He said she got to discover that Adegoke’s body was dumped in a bush at the police station.
“I didn’t know how he (Adegoke) died and I didn’t know what killed him. I started working in November 2020 at the hotel. Nobody has died in the hotel to the best of my knowledge,” the defendant said.
She also added that Adedoyin and his son, said to be at large, asked her to delete the photographs of the record book that she had taken during her duty on that day form her phone. The defendant said she obliged them because they were her employers.
The presiding Chief Judge of the state, Ojo, adjourned the matter till tomorrow for continuation of Chiefuna’s cross examination