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Usifo Ataga: Illegible statements, inaudible audio stall Chidinma’s trial

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Michael Ataga and Chidinma Ojukwu

The trial of Chidinma Ojukwu a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, who allegedly murdered Super TV’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Ataga, before a Lagos State High Court, sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square TBS, was Tuesday, stalled due to illegible statements served on the defence counsel.

The defence counsel told the court that the statements contained in the proof of evidence served on them were all illegible and that the audio interviews of the defendants were also inaudible.

They stated that the defendants had a right to clearer statements and audible video interviews as it would enable them prepare their defence adequately.

In a short ruling Justice Yetunde Adesanya, directed the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, to provide clearer statements and audible copies of the interviews to all the defence counsel before the end of the day.

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Earlier, the DPP, Mrs Addyinka Adeyemi, announced her appearance for the prosecution, while Mr Onwuka Egbu, Mr Babatunde Busari and Mr A.O. Ogunsanya appeared for the first to third defendants, respectively.

Adeyemi told the court that she had two witnesses in court and was ready to commence trial, but Egwu informed the court that he had a pending application before the court that was ripe for hearing.

He said that in his application he was praying for more legible statements, as the ones contained in the proof of evidence the prosecution served him were illegible.

Counsel to the second defendant, Busari, also aligned himself with the submission of the first defence counsel and further complained that the video recordings of the interviews were not served on him.

The counsel to the third defendant, Ogunsanya, from the Office of the Public Defender OPD, told the court that the video interviews of the defendants that were served on him were not audible.

He aligned with previous submissions that the statements he was served were also not clear.

The defence counsel submitted that they needed all these documents to enable them prepare for the trial adequately.

Adeyemi told the court that she would send soft copies of all the proof of evidence to each defence counsel email before the end of the day.

The charges, accused

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

The Lagos State government accused them of allegedly murdering the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Micheal Usifo Ataga.

In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have conspired amongst themselves and murdered Ataga on June 15, by stabbing him several times with a knife on his neck and chest.

The incident took place at 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Chidinma Ojukwu and Adedapo Quadri are facing the first seven counts on the charge bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.

While the third defendant, who is the first defendant’s sister, Chioma Egbuchu, is facing the ninth count charge of stealing iPhone 7, phone, belonging to the late Ataga.

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

They were also alleged to have forged a bank account statement of one Mary from June 1, an international passport and a driver’s license in Chidinma’s name.

In count eight, Chidinma was accused of stealing two mobiles, one laptop and ATM cards belonging to the late Usifo Ataga, from which N380,000 was subsequently withdrawn.

It was also alleged that on June 22, Chidinma’s sister, Chioma, was found in possession of a stolen phone, property of the late Usifo Ataga.

Meanwhile, Adesanya adjourned the matter to November, 11, 15, 16, 17, 26 and 30 for trial.

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Lagos corporal beats up senior officer over traffic

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Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin

There was a mild drama on Saturday at the Simbiat Abiola Way, Ikeja, Lagos State, as a police corporal assaulted his superior during an argument.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the yet-to-be-identified corporal had confronted the superior officer, who was identified as Supol Edgar, for allegedly causing traffic at the junction linking the Awolowo Way.

This led to an argument, as the corporal punched Edgar.

Our correspondent learnt that the policeman did not know Edgar was a police officer who resided in a barracks close to the scene.

During the confrontation, Edgar reportedly reached out to his colleagues in the barracks, who stormed out and bundled the policeman into their premises.

Our correspondent, who was at the scene of the incident, observed as the corporal was forcefully dragged into the police barracks.

An eyewitness, who identified himself only as Stanley for security reasons, said the problem was caused by a tricycle rider, who tried to navigate through some vehicles at the junction.

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He said, “The Supol tried to caution a tricycle rider who tried to make his way past some vehicles and that led to the traffic jam. But when the corporal saw what was happening, he angrily rushed out of his car to confront him for causing a delay. That was how the argument started between them and even when the senior officer was telling him that he was also a police officer, he did not hear him out, as he kept on slapping and punching him. That was when the Supol called someone in the barracks and they came to carry him.”

A traffic warden, who was at the spot and begged not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said the officer did not reveal his identity on time before the matter escalated.

He said, “I was controlling traffic when I saw a man arguing with someone in the tricycle. I approached him to know what was happening but he refused to answer me. I left him to continue what I was doing. It was later that I saw that traffic had started building up and by the time I went back to check what caused it, I saw both of them dragging each other.”

Our correspondent also observed that before the corporal was taken into the barracks, he was stripped of his clothes and asked to kneel, while other senior officers in the barracks gathered around him.

Edgar threatened to lock him up at the Area F Police Command.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said he was not aware of the incident.

He promised to respond after making enquiries. He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

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Just In: Bandits kill three, abduct scores in Taraba

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Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba

Bandits on Sunday night attacked and killed three persons while scores were reportedly abducted by the attackers in Bali town, the headquarters of Bali Local Government Area of Taraba State.

Several sources in Bali told our correspondent on the phone that the attackers who rode on motorcycles attacked and killed personnel of Taraba Marshall at a checkpoint near General Hospital before proceeding to individual houses to kill and abduct people.

The Tiv central leader and Chief of Tiv in Bali, Zaki David Gbaa (Ter Tiv Bali II) told our correspondent that two of his subjects were killed and scores, mostly women, were abducted in the attack.

“The attackers invaded the town at about 11: pm. Two of my subjects were killed in the attack, and two others who were badly injured are receiving treatment in the hospital.

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“Many people, especially women, were abducted. It’s a terrible situation and I want to call on the government and security agencies to sit up and ensure the protection of the lives and property of citizens.

“For over four hours, the bandits held the town shooting sporadically and there was no response from security agencies. People are losing hope of the government’s ability to protect them and I think the bandits are no more than our security agencies,” he said.

This is even as the traditional ruler called on the government to support the injured who are receiving treatment in hospitals.

The attack came barely three days after bandits blocked the Mutum-Biyu- Garba Chede road killing a driver and abducting passengers in the neighbouring Gassol Local Government area of the state.

Efforts to get the Police to react to the attack failed as the Taraba State Police Public Relations Officer, Abdullahi Usman, did not pick up calls made to his line.

But a police officer in the Taraba State Police Command told our correspondent that the PPRO was attending a security briefing.

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NAF Fighter Jet Kills Banditry Kingpin, Followers In Katsina

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A notorious banditry kingpin, Abdulkareem Lawal alias Faca-faca, and many of his followers have been killed in airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets on some bandits’ enclaves in Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State.

Our correspondent learnt that the raids were carried out in the evening.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Gambo Isah, confirmed on Sunday that eight suspected bandits including Faca-faca were killed during the raid.

 He also said the police Saturday night raided a terrorists’ hideout at Unguwar Dako, Tandama village in Danja Local Government Area of the state where they rescued six kidnapped victims. 

Isah gave the names of the rescued victims as Alhaji Garba DanMallam, 52; Rabiu Idris, 45; and Abba Samaila, 38, who are all residents of Unguwar Nuhu. 

Others are Yunusa Sani, 54; Ishaq Yakub, 40; and Danjuma Samaila, 45, all residents of Layin Sani village, Kafur. 

Meanwhile, bandits have killed two members of a local vigilante group and abducted a newlywed couple and other residents of Shola Quarters in the Katsina metropolis. 

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Residents said the bandits invaded the area around 1:25am and operated for over an hour. 

One of the sources said, “It was the vigilante members that even confronted the bandits but in the process, two of them were killed and two others wounded.” 

He explained that the vigilante members had to retreat for their safety when the bandits overpowered them. 

He said it was later that one body was retrieved while one of the injured persons rushed to the hospital died. 

Explaining how the newlywed couple was kidnapped, a relative, Usman Masanawa, said the husband, Yusuf Bishir, called to inform him of the attack but there was nothing he could do.

“We went there this morning; the bandits did not even enter the house through the entrance gate but they smashed the wall and got access into the house,” Masanawa said. 

He added that the number of residents abducted could not be ascertained but other residents said some houses were attacked and people abducted. 

When contacted, the PPRO who responded via WhatsApp message, said officers were on an operation (on the matter) and would communicate details later. 

In another attack, bandits abducted 13 people from Natsinta village, in Jibia Local Government Area, which is a few hundred metres from the army barracks in Katsina. 

A resident, whose uncle and two of his children were abducted, said the bandits had earlier abducted 26 people but when they got to where they parked their motorcycles, they took 13 with them and left the others.

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