Chidinma Ojukwu, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Super TV CEO, Usifo Ataga.
The 22-year-old did so on Tuesday when she and one Adedapo Quadri, who are the key suspects in the murder case were arraigned before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square.
Both suspects pleaded not guilty to eight counts bordering on the offences of murder, forgery and stealing.
They were also arraigned alongside Chidinma’s sister, Egbuchu Chioma from whom the late Ataga’s iPhone 7, was said to have been recovered.
Chioma, however, pleaded not guilty to the 9th count of being in possession of the stolen property.
They are being prosecuted by the Lagos State Department of Public Prosecution, Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi.
When Chidinma was arrested on June 24, she had initially admitted to killing Usifo after the police found his lifeless body in a pool of blood with multiple stab wounds at a hotel in the Lekki area of Lagos.
But contrary to her initial statements that she had stabbed Ataga in self-defense, the 22-year-old later in an interview in July, denied having anything to do with his death.
She explained that while they were lodged together in the short-let apartment, she briefly stepped out to buy some things only to return to his lifeless body.
“As I was leaving the apartment, he stood up to lock the door. When I came back, I knocked but there was no response. Then I opened the door and realized it wasn’t locked,” Chidinma said.
“The duvet was on the floor and pillows. The couch was facing the door and the bed was stained with blood and the floor where he was. Music was on, the TV was on. The room was in disarray like someone broke in.
“Then I saw him on the floor, I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid. I thought if I raised an alarm I would be arrested because we were the only people in the room”.
Also speaking in the interview, a cousin of the deceased said the state in which he later found the corpse was very questionable. According to him, the extent of the stab wounds as well as the way Ataga’s hands were tied, was so bad that the act could not have been done by just Chidinma.
She, on the other hand, claimed that the only reason she initially took responsibility for the incident was that it was just both of them in the room and she felt that no one would believe her story.
“I never had anything to do with his death. I didn’t involve anybody. I don’t know who must have come into the apartment. Definitely, somebody did but I don’t who the person is. I don’t know what happened when I left to buy food,” she said.