Tuesday , 9 August 2022

Update : Ataga murder : Court dismisses Chidinma’s lawyer’s objection to cross-examine bank staff

A Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, TBS, has dismissed Chidinma Ojukwu’s counsel, Mr. Onwuka Egwu’s objection to cross-examine the subpoenaed bank staff, who tendered the bank statements and account number of late Usifo Ataga, before the court.

Justice Yetunde Adesanya, in a short ruling, said that Sections 218 and 219 of the Evidence Act 2011 (“the Evidence Act”) provides that, “A person, whether a party or not in a cause, may be summoned to produce a document without being summoned to give evidence, and if he causes such document to be produced in court the court may dispense with his personal attendance.”

Section 219 of the Evidence Act also states that: “A person summoned to produce a document does not become a witness by the mere fact that he produces it and cannot be cross-examined unless and until he is called a witness.”

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She said: “This bank officer that has not been sworn on oath cannot be cross-examined.”

Justice Adesanya dismissed the application during the ongoing trial of an undergraduate of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Chidinma Ojukwu, over the alleged murder of Micheal Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.

Ojukwu is standing trial bordering on murder, stealing and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the prosecution counsel, Mrs A. O. Oluwafemi, told the court that the prosecution had a representative from the bank who is in court on the basis of subpoena to tender the account document of the deceased, in this matter Micheal Ataga.

She, however, called a representative of the bank, Mr Toafeek Lawal, to the witness box to present and tender the statement and certificate of identification.

After tendering the statement, the first defendnat’s counsel Onwuka Egwu, raised an objection to cross-examine the subpoenaed banker on the document he tendered before the court.

According to him, Toafeek Lawal, is the account officer of the deceased as can be seen from the subpoena document and certification attached to the account, and in a position to give evidence in respect of that account.

But the second defendant’s counsel, Mr Babatunde Busari, and the third defendant’s counsel, Mr A. O. Ogunsanya, did not object to the tendering of the account statements.

However the bank official, Mr Ademola Ayodeji, also tendered the bank statements of late Micheal Usifo Ataga before the court.

Consequently, Justice Adesanya, admitted all the documents in court as exhibits.

On Monday the prosecution had asked the court to adjourn till today to enable them put their house in order.

The three defendants were arraigned on October 12, 2021, on a nine-count charge preferred against them by Lagos State Government.

Ojukwu and Quadri are facing the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, stabbing, forgery, making of bank statements and stealing.

The third defendant, Egbuchu, is facing the ninth count – stealing of iPhone 7 belonging to the late Ataga.

Ojukwu and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife on the neck and chest.

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

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

The case was adjourned till April 28, for continuation of trial

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