A co-founder of Super Network Limited, Mr. Raman Obiorah Saliu, has given a gory tale of how the late Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga, was stabbed to death.
Saliu gave the account during the ongoing trial of Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged murder suspect of Ataga at the Lagos high court.
According to him, Ataga was killed like a chicken and was tied up, on both hands and legs like a ram waiting to be slaughtered.
Saliu, who broke down in tears while testifying before Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Lagos High Court, sitting at Tafa Balewa Square TBS, said aside the seven multiple stabs on Ataga’s neck, he was also stabbed in the stomach, and that there were multiple stabs on the two sides of Ataga’s ribs.
Saliu, who was led in evidence in chief by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mrs. A. O. Oluwafemi, stated that the deceased was tied up, on both hands and legs like a ram waiting to be slaughtered.
The witness who is the fifth prosecution witness, said that he saw a very big cut at back of his two sides of his neck, from his back to his neck as if they were going to perform surgery, when he visited the mortuary.
Saliu, a network engineer, programmer and a developer, told the court that he met the late Michael Usifo Ataga, 10 years ago, in the course of building the Super Tv App.
He said he was introduced to Ataga by a friend named, Bisi Osuneye, who is also late.
The witness explained that Ataga, being the Chief Executive Officer of Super Tv, usually conveyed management meetings on Mondays and Executive meetings on Tuesdays and that they met virtually via Microsoft link.
He said that he got a call from Ataga on Monday 14, June 2021, that he (Ataga) was having stomach pain.
The witness told the court that he being a high blood pressure person, advised Ataga to take drugs and rest.
Saliu said he needed to provide Ataga, with a task that ought to be completed before the management meeting, so he did not bother to call him back as he needed to complete the task.
According to him, “On Tuesday I wanted him (Ataga) to come to the meeting to give him the completed task, so I started calling him. My first call was at 11am, on June 15, 2021, I wanted to give him the brief that the task was easy in order to relief him of the blood pressure.
“I started calling him, he didn’t pick his calls neither did he return my message. I was surprised because the only thing he wants to hear is the billing App, with MTN, that it is working now.
“Michael didn’t pick his call, everybody started reaching out to him because the only way they can get him is through me and the only way they can reach me is through him, he still did not pick my calls, this was about 3:30pm, on June 15, 2021.
“ Then I got a WhatsApp message from him, after reading the message, I said to myself this is not Michael, talking to me. The message read “ I saw your missed calls, I took some drugs that can made me sleep, the construction of that message was not Michael style of writing, because Michael was very fluent in English.
“ I knew that was not Michael’s was of sending messages, then I sent him a screenshot of the billing system in the Super Tv App, that it’s working and his response to me was ok, great, that was when I knew something was happening because Michael will jump up, pick up his phone and call me immediately. So I went outside to take fresh air and I started thinking where he could have been now that he is not picking my calls.
“ I called Gambo, his driver and personal assistant (PA), to ask if he received any call from Ataga. Gambo said he got a WhatsApp message, between 5 to 6pm, on June 15, 2021, then we started thinking of what could have happened to him.
“ So, I started suspecting something was wrong because he was supposed to come to VGC on the 15th, so I had to raise alarm that I don’t know where Michael was.
“My last WhatsApp message to Michael was on June 16, 2021, at about 10:30am and the message reads “ Bro where are you, I am worried my BP is rising.” The message was read, no response, I started getting calls from his family wanting to wish him happy 50th birthday.
“Calls started coming in, I did not really know what to say, how can I say I’m looking for a 50-year-old man, to me it didn’t make any sense. I wanted to lodge a complaint at the VGC police station of a missing person, when suddenly at about 6:33 to 6:35 am on Thursday 17 June 2021, I got a call from Mrs. Brenda Ataga, who happens to be his wife asking for the whereabouts of he husband.
“I had to tell her the truth that I have been looking for Michael since Tuesday. She was a bit upset with me that I was looking for someone since Tuesday and I did nothing about it, I tried to explain to her that I was trying to make a complaint, 10minutes later she called back and said Michael’s phones was traced to the University of Lagos Unilag guest house.
“Mrs. Brenda Ataga, also called me and said there is a team of police men that I will meet at Unilag, to conduct the search. I got to Unilag, before them so I went to the security and told them I was looking for a black Range Rover, so they directed me to the guest house.
“While going through Yaba, I got a call from our GTB bank account officer, whom I asked to help trace Michael’s transactions, so that I can know where exactly he is. He told me that Michael made transactions on Sunday and Monday and the Sunday transaction was to a lady Mrs. Nkechi Mogbo the owner of the service apartment, (where Ataga was murdered).
“The account officer also said that the transaction that was made on Monday was to a Sterling Bank with the name Chidinma Ojukwu Adora.
“ I told him that since the owner of the service apartment uses GTBank, that he should send me her number, so after searching through Yaba, the account officer sent me hard number, so the police said I should give the number to Brenda so that it will not distract our search of Michael.
“Only for Brenda to call and told me that Michael is dead. I fainted, it took the Police to resuscitate me. I traced the money that was transferred by Michael to Chidinma’s Sterling bank account and I supplied all the information to the Police at Panti. Around 1am, on June 23, 2021, on a Wednesday I got a message from Panti, that Chidinma has been arrested.
During cross examination by the counsel to Chidinma, Mr. Onwuka Egwu, the witness said he had no idea, of who handed the CCTV footage video to the Police.
He said that the CCTV footage was trending prior to the arrest of Chidinma.
The counsel to the second and third defendants, Mr Babatunde Busari and Mrs. J. I. Osigede, did not cross examined the witness.
Justice Adesanya, adjourned to February 17, for continuation of trial.
Ojukwu, a 300-level, Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, is facing trial alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri, for Ataga’s murder.