Nkechi Mogbo, the owner of the short service apartment used by the murdered Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Michael Ataga, has told the court how he rented her apartment.
A 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, Chidinma Ojukwu, was accused of killing the 50-year-old man.
Chidinma and two others, Adedapo Quadri and Chioma Egbuchu, are undergoing trial before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos State.
Mogbo, while testifying on Thursday, told the court that she had a self-service apartment rented out for short service accommodation.
She said, “The apartment is fully furnished with cable TV, 24-hour power services, and a well-equipped kitchen. Couples and people from out of town who come in for weddings regularly book the apartment online or through referrals from agents.”
The witness, while being led in evidence in chief by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs Adeyinka Adeyemi, said, “On June 13, around 4pm, a lady called me on the telephone with a private number and requested for the apartment. The lady requested to see the apartment to ensure that the facilities were up to the standard she needed.”
The witness said after visiting the apartment, the lady, through WhatsApp message, confirmed that she would take the apartment for three days.
The witness stated that Chidinma “left the service apartment before the day she was supposed to leave.”
Mogbo added, “She mentioned that her name was Jewel and I forwarded payment details, thereafter, she sent proof of payment of N125,000, to my WhatsApp.
“The payment was made through a commercial bank account of one Mr Micheal Usifo, and my name as recipient.”
She further told the court that after two days, on June 15 around 5.30pm, Chidinma sent another message to her WhatsApp, stating that her friend would stay for two more days.
The witness added that the payment was made from Ataga’s GTB account, adding that later, when she called her security guard for another issue, the guard told her that “a body was found on the ground of the apartment.”
“I tried to reach the lady on the telephone, but she cut the call. She then sent a message to me that she was in a meeting.
“I sent a message that the payment which was made in the morning wasn’t credited to me,” the witness said.
She stated that Chidinma replied that her friend would make another payment, adding that few minutes later, she got another N50,000 from Ataga’s account.
“After a couple of hours, I sent her a message that I have received the initial payment of N50,000 and that I have given the security man the extra N50,000 for her to pick it up.
“She didn’t come; she sent a message that she would use it to pay for two more days for her friend. I reported the incident at the Maroko Police Station,” the witness said.
Mogbo then told the court that she was taken to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau in Panti, Yaba, where she spent seven days in custody to help police do a proper investigation.
She said she could not initially identify Chidinma when she was brought to the station, adding that it was with the aid of a picture she got from her phone that she was able to identify the suspect.
She also stated that her conversations with the first defendant were done through WhatsApp.
The DPP tendered the printed copy of the WhatsApp conversation as evidence.
However, the first defendant’s counsel, Mr Onwuka Egbu, objected to the admissibility of the document.
He said, “It is a public document which must be certified before it can be used as evidence.”
Justice Adesanya overruled Egbu and admitted the document as evidence.
Egbu then asked the court for an adjournment to enable him to study the documents, as well as to prepare for the cross-examination of the witness.
The judge adjourned the case till November, 15, 2021.