A co-founder of the Super Network Limited, the parent company of Super TV, Rahman Saliu, on Monday, told the Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square how the family of his colleague, Usifo Ataga, found his body at a service apartment in the Lekki area of the state.
Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, was allegedly killed by a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, Chidinma Ojukwu.
The undergraduate and two others, Adedapo Quadri and Chioma Egbuchu, are standing trial before Justice Yetunde Adesanya.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, Saliu said he was among those who searched for the deceased before his body was discovered.
According to Saliu, he and the deceased used to hold a management meeting on Mondays and Tuesdays, adding that before their meeting on June 15, 2021, he needed to complete a task.
Saliu noted that upon the completion of the task, he called the deceased, but he did not take his calls.
He said, “He didn’t pick his calls neither did he return my message. I was surprised because the only thing he wanted to hear was that the billing app with MTN was working. This was about 3.30pm on June 15, 2021.
Then I got a WhatsApp message from him and after reading the message, I said to myself that this was not Michael (Ataga) talking to me. The message read, ‘I saw your missed call; I took some drugs that can make me sleeping.’ The construction of that message was not Michael, because Michael was fluent in English.
“Then I sent him a screenshot of the billing system in the Super TV app; that it was working and his response to me was ‘OK, great.’ That was when I knew something was happening because Michael would jump up, pick up his phone and call me immediately.
“I called Gambo; he was a driver and personal assistant to Michael. I asked him if he received any call from Micheal, and he said no, and that he had also been calling him because he needed to pick up his clothes he was travelling with to Abuja from the laundry.
“Then his (Micheal’s) friend, Okwuedo, who lives with us at the Victoria Garden City, asked where was Usifo (Ataga), and I told him I got a WhatsApp message from him. So, Okwuedo asked to see the message. Immediately he saw it, he said this was not Michael’s typing.”
Saliu added that the trio continued looking for the deceased till the deceased’s wife, Brenda, called on June 17, 2021, requesting the whereabouts of her husband.
He noted that Brenda, who was furious with him for not telling her about her husband being missing, said she later called him back that the deceased’s phone was traced to the University of Lagos Guest House.
While going through Yaba, I got a call from our GTB account officer, whom I asked to help me trace Michael’s transactions, so that I could know where exactly he was. He said Michael made transactions on Sunday and Monday, and the Sunday transaction was to a lady, Mrs Nkechi Mogbo, the owner of the service apartment.
The account officer also said the transaction that was made on Monday was to a Sterling Bank with the name Chidinma Ojukwu Adora. The account officer asked me what was happening and I told him that that day was his birthday and that I had been looking for him since Tuesday.
“I told him that since the owner of the service apartment used GTB, that he should send me her number.”
Saliu, a network engineer and developer, explained that Brenda later called him back after speaking with the owner of the service apartment, to notify him (Saliu) that Ataga had died.
“I didn’t want to believe that Michael was dead. When I got to the mortuary, I saw Michael’s body. Michael was killed like chicken; I saw a big cut at the back of his neck. The wickedness for me was that the day I was with Michael’s corpse, they were still taking money from his account, that was 17th June 2021, exactly the day he was 50 years old.
“There were subsequent USSD transactions on his account until Brenda and I decided to close the account.
“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, I got a message from Panti (SCIID) that Chidinma had been arrested.
“Michael’s iPhone came with an original Apple pouch; when the police recovered the iPhone from Chidinma, it was replaced with a N1,000 pouch. Michael’s laptop was also recovered. There were two iPhones, one iPhone 11 and iPhone 7 or 8, were also recovered. I was told by the police that she gave the other iPhone to her sister.”
Justice Adesanya adjourned the matter till February 17, 2022, for continuation of trial.