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Human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome(SAN), has petitioned the Inspector General of Police over the shoddy handling by the police in Lagos of the gruesome murder of Michael Usifo Ataga.

Chief Mike Ozekhome(SAN)

Mr Ataga was the Chief Executive Officer of Super Television. He was found dead in an apartment in Lekki area of Lagos in June.

The Lagos State Police Command had arrested one Chidima Ojukwu, who had confessed to committing the crime.

The deceased’s family had been disatisfied with the handling of the murder case and had sought the services of Ozekhome to help ensure justice for the victim.

Ozekhome, in the petition, called on the IGP to use his good offices to thoroughly investigate the murder, given that the Lagos State Police Command had left several gaps in the conduct of the investigations so far.

“Usifo is dead, cold dead. His physical body remains have since been buried on the 30th of July, 2021,” the letter partly reads.

“He cannot therefore now speak for, or defend himself. But, the above questions and more, must be asked and answered on his behalf.

“The above jigsaw puzzles must now be solved. The Police must unravel them and properly re-arraign before a proper court of law with the urgency of yesterday, Chidinma and other perpetrators of this dastardly crime.

“We are only urging your Officers sir, to do their job PROPERLY AND PROFESSIONALLY. We are not asking for, and we do not intend to ask for, any special favours.

“Usifo and his family also do not intend to, either. We just want justice – pure and undiluted justice. Your duty is quite clear under the law, as severally expounded by Nigerian courts.”

Below is the full text of Chief Ozekhome’s petition:

The Inspector General of Police,
Nigeria Police Force,
Police Headquarters,
Louis Edet House,
Shehu Shagari Way,
Abuja.

Dear Sir,

THE GRUESOME AND HORRIFIC MURDER OF MR. MICHAEL USIFO ATAGA: A CLARION CALL FOR THOROUGH INVESTIGATION AND DELIVERY OF JUSTICE

INTRODUCTION

We are Solicitors to the family of late Mr Michael Usifo Ataga (“Usifo”, “Ataga”, “our client”), who was brutally murdered on the 15th day of June, 2021, in the most horrific and spine-chilling circumstances ever imaginable. We write this letter to you to request, NOT FOR ANY SPECIAL FAVOURS, but that you use your good offices to ensure that THIS MURDER IS THOROUGHLY AND PROFESSIONALLY INVESTIGATED, PERPETRATORS PROSECUTED AND JUSTICE IMMEDIATELY SERVED in this savage and barbaric murder that cries to the high heavens for redress.

We have advisedly decided to make this an open letter to you for the simple reason that the assassination of Mr Usifo Ataga has since been in the public domain, having been made so by your Commissioner in Charge of the Lagos State Police Command, Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, when he paraded the prime suspect, Miss Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu (“Chidinma”), before the media on the 24th of June, 2021. Consequently, the whole world has been following the murder’s unfolding melodrama with keen interest, to know the way and manner that Nigeria’s criminal justice system works and how justice is eventually served to the suspect, the victim and the society itself.

Chidinma is a 21-year-old 300-level Mass Communication undergraduate of the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos State. Late Mr. Usifo Ataga, a 50-year-old married man, a father of two and the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, was killed in a short-let apartment at No 19, Adewale Oshin Street, Lekki Phase 1,Lagos State on June 15, 2021. Every information contained in this letter has been duly supplied to us by our client’s family; and also based on our direct access to and analysis of several media links that have since heavily publicised and widely circulated this cruel and heinous crime.

THE GRUESOME MURDER OF USIFO ATAGA AS NARRATED BY CHIDINMA ADAORA OJUKWU HERSELF

Mr. Usifo, from the first line of confession made by Chidinma Ojukwu herself, before the public, and during her media parade by the Police on 24th June, 2021, was severally stabbed to death in a most morbid and macabre manner. While speaking to the assembled Press in a calm and measured tone, Chidinma narrated how they supposedly had a drug-fuelled sex rendezvous that got out of hand when he allegedly tried to rape her. She said Usifo hit her head against the wall, which, according to her, forced her to grab a knife and stab him twice (emphasis supplied). However, the family members of Usifo who identified his body at the Mainland Hospital Mortuary, Yaba, Lagos State, controverted her statement and stated that Usifo was not stabbed only twice, but severally and in a most savage manner, with some stabs on his jugular and another penetrating through his ribcage from a side of his abdomen (emphasis supplied).

Chidinma had also stated during her media parade that she stole Usifo’s money afterwards, using his ATM card and pin number that he had allegedly freely given to her, prior to the date of the murder. She said he had told her to take any amount she desired, but that she had declined because that was not what she wanted. Chidinma also admitted to satisfying herself with some money which she withdrew from Usifo’s account after brutally killing him. She said she stole N380,000 (three hundred and eighty thousand naira) only, as opposed to the N5 million (five million naira) that was transferred from his account. When questioned as to why she stole from him at all, she answered that she needed the money to pay her school fees.
STATEMENT BY THE POLICE

The Police under your command had also gone ahead and released a statement, saying, inter alia, that the suspect, Chidinma, had:

“CONSPIRED WITH OTHERS, NOW AT LARGE, and allegedly murdered Michael Usifo Ataga. The short service apartment where the alleged murder was committed was secretly booked by the suspect on the 13th of June, 2021, and that she left the apartment after the deed had been done on the 15th of June, 2021. A fake driver’s license bearing Mary Johnson with the suspect’s photograph, was found amongst her belongings at her home, as well as a blood-stained cloth, ostensibly worn on the day of the murder. The suspect confessed to using a kitchen knife to stab the deceased and that she took away the evidence, the blood-stained knife and discarded it in a dustbin by her house. She also admitted stealing his iPhone” (bolden supplied for emphasis).

STATEMENT BY THE OWNER-MANAGER OF THE SERVICE APARTMENT

One Mrs Nkechi Mogbo, ostensibly the owner-manager of the Lekki Short Service Apartment, narrated how the suspect (Chidinma) had called to book for the apartment, using a USA WhatsApp number. Mogbo said Chidinma claimed that she had just arrived the country, and was at the airport. Mogbo stated that Chidinma said she needed a place quiet enough to quarantine herself. Mrs Mogbo said that Chidinma also stated that her passport was held at the airport, allegedly because of Covid-19 protocols.

After taking the apartment, Chidinma, according to Mrs Nkechi Mogbo (the owner-manager), called her and the security guard a few times; and that all the time, Chidinma made sure she blocked her own number, including after committing the heinous murder. Mrs Nkechi Mogbo said Chidinma requested to extend her stay and asked not to be disturbed in the room. Mrs Mogbo said Chidinma again enquired from the short service apartment, if the deceased’s vehicle had been taken away; unaware, at this point in time, that the said owner-manager was already helping the Police in its investigation.

Days after the incident, no one could describe Chidinma’s facial features, because according to the owner-manager and all her staff, Chidinma always wore face masks whenever she was around the service apartment. The security guard at the premises of the service apartment narrated how the suspect had even come to the gate to receive items from a delivery man who later told him, after the suspect had taken her delivery, that the items were drugs.

Chidinma, at the press conference, publicly confessed that she committed the crime ALONE under the influence of ‘roofies’ (the street name of Rohypnol). According to Chidinma, she had taken one wrap of the deadly substance, while Usifo allegedly took three. She added that she had grabbed a kitchen knife with which she severally stabbed Ataga to death, allegedly to free herself from his purported attempt to have forceful sex with her (emphasis supplied). Forceful sex with a man for whom you personally booked an apartment to stay together with, and with his money? To say this line is incredulous is an understatement.

THE APPALLING SCENE OF USIFO’S GRUESOME MURDER

To say Usifo died a horrific and savage death is to put it mildly for want of a better description. He was not stabbed just 1, 2, 3, 4 or even 5 times (contrary to Chidinma’s narration); he was actually stabbed multiple times, according to Usifo’s family members (emphasis supplied). His hands were tightly bound. Several marks were deeply etched all over his wrists. These were accompanied with inerasable evidence of brutal torture and sustained assault. The rope suspected to have been used to tie his hands was reportedly found inside the service apartment and now in the custody of the Police, among several other items. The rope cut deeply into his wrists which were tightly and fiercely manacled. The sharp object with which he was pierced was said to have been driven through his ribcage and penetrated deeply. Such inhuman and degrading treatment, not befitting even of lower classes of animals, was meted out to this helpless and embattled man. His battered corpse was laid in a closed white casket for his interment which was carried out on 30th July, 2021, because of the battered and unsightly condition of his body. It must be emphasised that no one in the entire building was said to have heard any screams from Usifo. The only reasonable deduction therefore is that Usifo was obviously gagged and his screams muffled. He had been bound firmly, manacled, his voice muted and his person viciously tortured!

The viral video of the room which was taken by the first responders to the scene – the Maroko Police Station Officers – was callously released and displayed on the internet. The video shows the grisly scene of the murder of the deceased Ataga. The video displays a room with blood-stained bespattered walls and floors. No doubt, this shows clear evidence of a ferocious struggle on the part of Usifo to live. Was it possible that Chidinma carried out all these acts all alone? Let the Courts speak to this, but only after your Officers must have done a more professionally thorough investigation (which is not the case at present). This is obviously not a case for the incessant movie media parades of Chidinma that the public has so far unfortunately been treated to!

The Police said they had found in Usifo’s bloody room, complimentary cards; Access Bank Statement of Account; one Nigerian passport with No. B50010434 belonging to Chidinma; a fake driver’s licence bearing Mary Johnson, but with Chidinma’s photograph. Also recovered from the scene were one National Identity Card; one UBA ATM Debit card; and one University of Lagos ID Card, all bearing Chidinma’s name. The scene, to say the least, was gory and grisly indeed.

THE UNPROFESSIONAL PARADE OF CHIDINMA OJUKWU AS A SUPER CELEBRITY

The entire family, relations, friends, admirers, business associates and well-wishers of Usifo Ataga are greatly appalled, disgusted and pained, that rather than engage in a quiet, calm, secret and professional investigation of this dastardly act of murder to unravel the gruesome circumstances surrounding it and immediately arraigning the suspect (and others who may have been involved) to court, the Police was busy, serially parading Chidinma before the media, in the most detestable and unsympathetic manner of a celebrated Hollywood, Nollywood and Bollywood film star. Chidinma was made to appear in different apparels, with carefully packed and made-up hairstyles, occasionally allowing a smile to play on her lips; with her mouth pouted in a sneering manner. Why and by whom was Chidinma allowed access to make-up materials and artistes at a time she was being detained for a crime as serious as murder?

Sir, for God’s sake, your officers have been trivialising a serious case of murder as “Alawada Kerikeri” histrionics of renowned Comedian, Baba Sala. The local and international communities have so far guffawed and wondered about our humanity as a people, as they are daily assailed with the splendour of scenes of a murder suspect being accorded the undeserved status of an iconic celebrity. Your Police has been playing down a serious crime of murder and insulting our individual and collective sensibilities and moral upbringing as a people.

CHIDINMA’S EVER-CHANGING NARRATIVE

Contrary to the voluntary self-confession made by Chidinma on the 24th of June, 2021, shortly after her arrest on the 23rd of June, 2021, and when the facts of Ataga’s savage murder were still very fresh with her, she has since serially changed her storyline, courtesy of your Lagos State Police Command’s media parade of Chidinma and her unhindered access to the Press.

CHIDINMA’S INTERVIEW WITH THE NTA

In an interview she later granted to the NTA, Chidinma said she narrated her story the way she did because she was scared that she would be caught. She said she “wanted to steal from him. But he was not allowing me to. So, we got into a fight and that was when I stabbed him. I tied his hands and at that time he was sleeping. I tied his hands so that by the time he wakes up, he will be able to give me what I want, and I will go. When we were fighting, the knife was at the back. I was leaning on the cabinet. That was when I stabbed him.”

When asked how many times she stabbed Usifo, Chidinma, who had categorically said she stabbed him twice during her first media parade, said, “I didn’t count. I was on drugs and also, during the struggle, he was trying to strangle me and that was when I used the knife on him. He was already high, so he didn’t feel it. And he took more than I did. The drugs were already requested so I went to collect it outside. He sent me money already to order for the drug, but the drug didn’t arrive on that Monday, so it arrived on Tuesday. We also smoked and drank. The incident happened early in the morning, so I got myself in the afternoon. Towards afternoon was when I got myself. By that time, he already passed out.”

Asked whether if she had asked Usifo to voluntarily give her money, he would have been so stingy as to refuse her, Chidinma answered, “No, he wouldn’t…I asked him, but he said he didn’t have.”

CRIME FIGHTERS CASE FILE’S INTERVIEW WITH CHIDINMA

In yet another interview with CRIME FIGHTERS CASE FILE, Chidinma confessed that she stopped doing ushering business of N15,000 – N20,000, because Usifo was giving her more money than the ushering provided. She appeared this time around to have recanted the withdrawal of N380,000 from Usifo’s account because in her new narration, the N400,000 or N500,000 found in her account was proceeds from the sale of a Mac Pro laptop that Usifo had given to her.

Chidinma, who had earlier confessed to personally stabbing Ataga twice with a kitchen knife (during the media parade); and again not knowing how many times she had stabbed him (during the NTA interview), suddenly changed her story. This time around, she claims that she had left the apartment to go and buy food, and upon returning to the apartment, the door (allegedly previously locked by Ataga) was unlocked. She said when she knocked and there was no answer, she opened the door by herself, only to discover that:

“the duvet was on the floor, plus pillows. The couch was facing the door and the bed was stained with blood already. The floor where he was was blood and then music was on, the TV was on. The room was already disarranged like someone broke in. Then I saw him on the floor. I didn’t know what to do. I took my things with his things and left. I was just afraid. I didn’t know if I had raised alarm, they would have just arrested me for doing it because I and him were just the only people in the room. I just left. I was packing my things to leave and then I noticed that my cloth was stained, so I changed it to another. I took the bags that contained ID and documents, bank statements. My bag was already on the floor, I met my bag on the floor. The stuff he was with was on the TV set, that’s where the stuff I took was on. So I just packed them and put them into the nylon and left. I took his phone. The following week, I was home. Then I went out to withdraw some money from the ATM that I was with, I withdrew 200k.”

Did your Policemen ever investigate who this “someone” who “broke in”, according to Chidinma, was? If so, who was the person(s)? Did your Police Investigators actually find out how much Chidinma actually withdrew from Usifo’s account; and if so, how much balance was left in the said account after the said withdrawal(s)?

Chidinma, during this later interview with Crime Fighters Case Files, also recanted her earlier story (during the media parade) with a new narration that, “It’s not like I had something to do with his death, I never had anything to do with his death.” Oh, really?

When asked by the interviewer why she was now denying stabbing Ataga, Chidinma said:

“I didn’t involve anybody. I don’t know who must have come into the apartment. Definitely somebody did that, but I don’t know who that person is. I don’t know what happened when I left to go buy food. Because of the thing I did after, not alerting Police and also withdrawing money, I feel guilty for what happened. I did not kill him. Knowing fully well that I did not kill him, but my doings, taking his money and not reporting to the Police, I believe that somebody knew where we were and then waited till I left before they could enter. The pressure and people. When I was confronting the security guy and he was like, “no, nobody entered into the apartment. That it was just me that entered into the apartment”. And knowing fully well of what I did and withdrawing the money, I just took the blame on myself. That since no one believes, let me just take it. No one is influencing my statement. I have not spoken to anybody, my relations or anybody. I’ve just been in the cell since.”

Did your Officers note Chidinma’s ever-changing narrative with each media house? If so, what was their reaction to it?

KNOTTY QUESTIONS AND JIGSAW PUZZLES THAT MUST NOW BE SOLVED

We have decided to go this whole length in paraphrasing the fresh narratives of Chidinma in subsequent press interviews, after her first media parade voluntary confession of murdering Ataga in cold blood, to raise some pertinent questions and highlight certain jigsaw puzzles that need to be solved now by your Police Investigators. Not the wishy-washy one that the public has so far been assailed with. By the way, were these media parades and press interviews necessary at all? Were the statements made by Chidinma during these media parades and press interviews not supposed to form part of her extra-judicial statements made under caution, before the Police, and which would then be used in prosecuting her? This entire murder case has so far been MOST unprofessionally handled and perhaps deliberately bungled. But why should this be the case? The Ataga family (our client) has already pointedly accused the Police of deliberately bungling the investigations, so as to allow some major suspects escape justice, or give them soft landing by arraigning them before a Chief Magistrate court and slapping their wrists with lesser offences. See https://punchng.com/super-tv-ceo-family-accuses-lagos-police-of-cover-up-hires-ozekhome/; https://www.premiumtimesng.com/regional/ssouth-west/470249-there-is-more-to-atagas-death-than-alleged-murderers-confession-family.html; https://www.arise.tv/late-ataga-family-hires-ozekhome-says-lagos-police-commissioner-lacks-professionalism/.

Late Ataga was said to be on the verge of one of the greatest breakthroughs that Nigeria has ever witnessed through his media establishment, Super TV. Super TV is a mobile-enabled platform with two major telecommunication multinationals on board. It was designed to create affordable subscription rates. Does this have any link with or clue to Ataga’s murder?

Ataga, from the gruesome circumstances of his horrific death, was obviously brutally tortured. He was not just given one blow, or stabbed once or twice and left alone to die in pains. No. Evidence of multiple stab wounds existed on different parts of his body. Was someone intimidating him and trying to extract valuable information out of him? Why was one brutal stab directed at his neck, his very jugular? This was obviously designed to kill him. And death Usifo did experience. Was it that someone wanted him out of the way at all cost? Did they see him as a threat in the media industry? If so, who may these be?

Did Chidinma carry out the murder alone (her first narration)? Could she have single-handedly matched Ataga, an acclaimed amateur boxer and body builder, in a one-on-one brawl, going by the frail-looking young lady we all saw on television, newspapers and the social media? Could she have solely overpowered the deceased who allegedly raped her by force? By the way, why would Ataga rape Chidinma, a lady he was already dating, and who had actually agreed that she booked their rendezvous with Usifo’s own money which he had voluntarily transferred to her? Does it make any sense to any right thinking member of the public?

Why would Ataga give Chidinma his ATM card, with the pin numbers, to go and withdraw any sum she desired, when he could easily have personally transferred same to her, as he had been doing before then? Remember, Chidinma had stated that he had transferred to her the money with which she booked the hotel. Which was easier: a simple electronic transfer by Usifo to Chidinma in the cosy comfort of the apartment, or her having to queue up in front of long lines at an ATM gallery? Why would she subject herself to ATM daily withdrawal limits, when any sum Ataga desired for her could seamlessly have been transferred to her by a simple press of the button?

In this day of easy electronic bank transfers, which person gives his or her bank card and pin number to another, when he or she can easily electronically transfer any amount to such a person? If indeed Ataga gave Chidinma his ATM card and told her to take any sum she wanted (as she claimed), did he also give her his BVN? How did she obtain it? Usifo Ataga’s company was said to have some substantial amount of money in an escrow account. The first attempt was said to have been to try and move the money. Was this done before or after Usifo Ataga had been killed? Who attempted the transfer? Was it that because these funds were in an Escrow account, Usifo Ataga needed to be tortured to access it, since neither he, nor anyone else could ever move even a kobo from his escrow account, even if he wanted to? Why was his money in another separate account moved to his account for which they had his ATM card, and then the siphoning spree of his funds began? N5 million (five million naira) was said to have been moved from the account in just one day – perhaps the maximum withdrawal sum allowed. Who did it? Was there a massive conspiracy? And if so, by whom?

Also, someone was said to have sent in some instructions, trying to change Ataga’s banking security details. That singular act was said to have flagged up the account, which was then promptly blocked. Who was this person(s) and why did he (they) do so?

Chidinma claimed that she wanted money for school fees. Oh, really? Did she need a trillion naira from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s vault to pay her mere school fees?

How come no one in the entire premises ever heard Chidinma or Usifo’s screams for help during the fight over the alleged rape? Why was the sudden latter changes in Chidinma’s narration? Who was tutoring her, or doctoring her earlier stance? For what reasons?

Why was the Pathologist not called to the crime scene immediately the Police was informed about the murder? Why was the media granted immediate access to the crime scene? Why did it take the Police 30 days (15th July, 2021) to get the autopsy of Usifo done after his murder which occurred on 15th June, 2021? Why was no forensics carried out on Usifo’s Range Rover Vehicle still parked at the Maroko Police Station till date? What is the status of the exhibits collected at the crime scene, including, but not limited to, the rope, the broken half table glass, etc?

Why is the autopsy report still not ready till date, despite the Pathologist having handed over different samples taken from Usifo’s body to the Police during the autopsy on 15th July, 2021?

Why did it take the Police so long before finally arraigning Chidinma before a Chief Magistrate court at Yaba (a court that has no jurisdiction to try a murder case)? Recall that this was a murder which had been committed since 15th June, 2021? Why, after having waited so long, did the Police not deem it fit to first obtain the legal advice of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), before rushing Chidinma to a Chief Magistrate Court, which it very well knew, has no jurisdiction over murder cases? Was this not another deliberate act of putting the cart before the horse? Was anyone, or some unseen hands, stifling this murder investigation and trial, hoping that in the usual Nigerian way, the matter will simply die off with the passage of time? If so, who are these faceless people? What has been their interest in the entire murder case? Does Chidinma know more than she has so far sung about like a canary?

Recall sir, that our client (the Ataga family) had, some time ago, accused your officers of low-level professionalism in promptly bringing to book and prosecuting the perpetrators of this heinous crime that led to their son’s unprovoked and cold-blooded murder. The family had accused the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu, of being complicit in an alleged attempt to protect the killer(s) of Usifo. The family had said that they were shocked that the prosecution of Chidinma, the 21-year-old prime suspect in Ataga’s murder, was arraigned at a Chief Magistrate Court, Yaba, without even being informed about the arraignment coming up. Why was this so?

The family had also decried the alleged VIP treatment accorded Chidinma in her movement from the Police cell to Court and from Court to the prison of Chidinma, when she was driven in the front seat of a Toyota Camry Uber ride, without even handcuffs and without the least courtesy of the family being informed of the arraignment. Why were these so? The family also alleged that the man who had claimed to be Chidinma’s father and who was also charged before the Chief Magistrates’ court for obstructing Police investigation, was actually not Chidinma’s biological father after all, but her “sugar daddy”. The family postulated that this means that the Police had deliberately lied to it. Was this the case? If so, did the Police find out about the identity of Chidinma’s true biological father and her connection with this adopted father (now said to be her “sugar daddy”)?

The family had also revealed that one Babalola Disu, who was arraigned for allegedly preventing the Police from performing their duties and failing to report a crime to the Police, is “highly suspected to have carried out the murder”. The family premised its suspicion on information it had to the effect that Disu’s short rental apartment was directly opposite the apartment where Ataga was killed. The family narrated how the said Disu had asked that the carpenter of the Air BnB short service apartment should be called to fix his door, only for the carpenter to be told that it was actually Usifo’s door that was broken. The family said it also suspects the said Disu for having a hand in Usifo’s murder because of the manner in which he disappeared from the service apartment and wondered why he was charged for mere obstruction and failure to report a crime, thus being granted bail in the ridiculous sum of 1 million naira only. The bail was granted by Chief Magistrate Adeola Adedayo, in the most liberal bail conditions of 1 million naira each with two sureties in like sum, to ALL THE SUSPECTS involved in the murder (except Chidinma) in such a heinous crime of hideous and horrific murder. Why did Disu obstruct Police investigation and over what crime? How did he do so? What crime did Disu fail to report to the Police for which he was now charged? Was it the murder case? And if so, how was he connected to it and under what circumstances did he know about it? Questions, questions and questions. The Ataga family needs answers, answers and answers.

The Ataga family had also directly accused your Lagos State Police Commissioner of being complicit in deliberately bungling the Usifo murder investigation through his lack of seriousness, depth, thoroughness, and professionalism. Such a grave accusation by Usifo’s family should not be left uninvestigated and the truth discovered.

YES, USIFO, THE DECEASED, CANNOT NOW SPEAK!

Usifo is dead, cold dead. His physical body remains have since been buried on the 30th of July, 2021. He cannot therefore now speak for, or defend himself. But, the above questions and more, must be asked and answered on his behalf. The above jigsaw puzzles must now be solved. The Police must unravel them and properly re-arraign before a proper court of law with the urgency of yesterday, Chidinma and other perpetrators of this dastardly crime.

THE HALLOWED DUTY OF THE POLICE

We are only urging your Officers sir, to do their job PROPERLY AND PROFESSIONALLY. We are not asking for, and we do not intend to ask for, any special favours. Usifo and his family also do not intend to, either. WE JUST WANT JUSTICE – PURE AND UNDILUTED JUSTICE. Your duty is quite clear under the law, as severally expounded by Nigerian courts.

In AYINDE v. STATE (2018) LPELR-44761(SC), the apex court of Nigeria held:

“The detection of crime, which is the responsibility of the Police, falls into three distinguishable phases: the discovery that a crime has been committed; the identification of a suspect; and the collection of sufficient evidence to indict the suspect before a Court – Britannica.com. So, criminal identification is not only the most potent factor in securing the apprehension of the criminal, but its establishment enables the Judiciary to sentence the guilty equitably – Jstor.org.” Per AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, JSC (Pp 24 – 24 Paras B – D).

Similarly, in IBRAHIM v. COP, KWARA STATE (2021) LPELR-53989(CA), the Court of Appeal, following laid down pronouncements by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, held as follows:

“It is the position of the Court that once a complaint of commission of crime is properly laid before the police, it is the constitutional and statutory duty of the police to investigate it as investigation of crime, prevention and detection of crime and preservation of life and property are the primary duties of the police. It is the right of the appellant to make a complaint to the police after he was attacked and his properties snatched from him. The police have a duty to investigate the complaint. See FABIYI V. STATE (2013) LPELR-21180 (CA) AT 45-46 (D-G).” Per MISITURA OMODERE BOLAJI-YUSUFF, JCA (Pp 19 – 20 Paras E – B).

See also DOSOMAH v. C.O.P, EDO STATE & ORS (2014) LPELR-24497(CA); OLUTIDE & ORS v. HAMZAT & ORS (2016) LPELR-26047(CA); ONAH v. OKENWA & ORS (2010) LPELR-4781(CA).

OUR MODEST DEMANDS

Our client has instructed us to demand, from the Police, and WE HEREBY DEMAND as follows:

That your Officers FORTHWITH re-investigate the entire Usifo murder case more properly and more professionally, and hand over the findings of its investigations to the Lagos State DPP to properly and formally re-arraign Chidinma Ojukwu; and the other co-accused persons who had already been charged before a Chief Magistrate court and hurriedly granted bail. These are the persons of Babalola Disu; Ojukwu (Chidinma’s alleged father or “sugar daddy”); Jessica Egbochi; Abayomi Olutayo; and, Ifeoluwa Olowu; and ANY OTHER PERSON(S) whom the Police investigation may still throw up as having been linked to Usifo’s beastly and cold-blooded murder.

That your Officers FORTHWITH HALT any further funny and phony parade of Chidinma, or allow her access to media interviews. These invariably lead to total trivialisation and mockery of a serious crime of brutal murder committed against Usifo, our client’s illustrious son, father, husband, breadwinner and community leader per excellence. Such parades also have the unsalutary effect of negatively impacting on our societal values and the morals of Nigerians, especially the youth, who may erroneously, but unwittingly, behold Chidinma as a heroine.

LAST LINE

Let us be very emphatic about this. Though Usifo has died and his battered body committed to Mother Earth since 30th July, 2021, his soul lives on. His dogged spirit fights on for justice. His teary eyes demand societal fairness. His shackled and manacled body, stabbed serially in a most vicious and hideous manner, yearns for freedom and recompense. His pierced jugular cries to the high heavens that his murderer(s) be properly and professionally prosecuted and accorded their just dessert. In these simple demands of the Ataga family, we SHALL ENSURE THAT JUSTICE IS NOT ONLY DONE, BUT IS SEEN BY THE WHOLE WORLD TO HAVE BEEN MANIFESTLY DONE. CONSEQUENTLY, WE SHALL LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED; AND NO TURN UNSTONED, IN SEEING THAT JUSTICE IS SERVED TO THE ETERNAL MEMORY OF LATE MR MICHAEL USIFO ATAGA.

To say more at this stage will be otiose.

Please, accept the assurances of our highest regards.

Yours faithfully,

Chief Mike A. A. Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D., LL. D
Chief Counsel/Head of Chambers

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