4th May, 2023
By Chinyere Omeire
A Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square on Thursday admitted the two handwritten statements made by Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged murder suspect of Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga, in evidence.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya said that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt the voluntariness of the defendant’s statements.
She said this while giving a ruling on the trial within trial where the defendant had objected to the admissibility of her statements.
The defendant had, through her counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu, alleged that her statements were not voluntarily made.
The defendant had, during trial within trial, alleged that she was slapped and forced to sign statements not voluntarily made by her.
The former 300-level Mass Communication undergraduate of the University of Lagos is standing trial for the alleged murder of Ataga.
She is also charged with stealing and forgery alongside one Adedapo Quadri and her sister, Chioma Egbuchu.
At the resumed hearing, Justice Adesanya, said that it was settled law that before a statement would be admissible, the defendant must be advised of his or her rights.
She said that the defendant must be made to understand the rights and must be cautioned before his or her statements would be taken.
The judge said the defendant had alleged that she was physically abused and threatened.
Adesanya, however, said, “The videos tendered in court did not display any intimidation towards the defendant while she was writing her statements.
“The voice of the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) was clear and audible. It did not show any form of intimidation”.
She said that the prosecution was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was not coaxed into writing her statements.
The judge, therefore, admitted the two statements in evidence and marked them as exhibits.
After the ruling, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs Adenike Oluwafemi, prayed for adjournment.
She said that the police officer who was still giving evidence before the trial within trial was not present in court.
Oluwafemi said that the witness was out of the jurisdiction on official assignment.
Justice Adesanya, however, adjourned the case until May 30 for continuation of trial.