Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square has admitted in evidence, two handwritten statements made by Chidinma Ojukwu, the key suspect in the murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga.
While ruling on a trial within trial to determine the voluntariness of the statements, Justice Yetunde Adesanya, held that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Chidinma made the statements willingly and without duress.
Through her counsel, Mr Onwuka Egwu, the defendant had alleged that her statements were not voluntarily made, claiming she was slapped and forced to sign the statements after it was written by the police officers whom she insisted tore her initial statements.
Chidinma is standing trial for the alleged murder of Ataga. She is also charged with stealing and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.
Chidinma and Quadri are alleged to have conspired and murdered Ataga on June 15, 2021, by stabbing him several times with a knife in the neck and chest.
In her ruling on the statements, 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, asked the court to grant an adjournment especially because the police officer who was to testify, was not present in court.
Oluwafemi said that the witness was out of the jurisdiction on official assignment.
Justice Adesanya has adjourned the case until May 30 for continuation of trial.
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