WHO WILL SPEAK FOR USIFO ATAGA?

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Finally, we have an arrest in the ongoing saga of the murder of Usifo Ataga, and we also have a ‘confession’. An apprehended suspect has spoken, and, in a nutshell, she tells the World that it was a crime of passion. The same crime of passion angle that was rushed, planted, and disseminated via the social media by person(s) unknown, barely hours after the news broke.  In whose interest is it if we all accept this as a crime of passion? 

The culprit, Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu, an innocent looking, soft spoken 21-year-old University of Lagos female undergraduate, spoke to the assembled press in a calm and measured tone, stating that basically, they had a drug fuelled sex tryst that got out of hand when he tried to rape her, hitting her head against the wall and she grabbed a knife and stabbed him twice. She also stated that she stole his money afterwards, using his ATM card and pin number that he had freely given her prior, asking her to take any amount she wanted but that she had declined telling him that it was not what she wanted. She also admitted to ‘helping’ herself with some money from his account after killing him and that she only stole N380,000 as opposed to N5m that was transferred from his account, and when asked why she stole from him, she answered that she needed the money for her school fees.  

The Police have since also released a statement saying amongst other things, that the suspect CONSPIRED WITH OTHERS, NOW AT LARGE, and allegedly murdered one 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.

The owner/manager of the service apartment said that the suspect called to book using a USA WhatsApp number and claimed that she had just arrived in the Country and was at the Airport and needed a place quiet to quarantine and that her Passport was held at the airport because of Covid. After taking the apartment, the suspect called the Manager/Owner and security guard a few times and all the time, she made sure to block her number, including after committing the murder, to extend her stay and ask them not to disturb the room, and again to enquire from her if the deceased’s vehicle had been taken away, unaware that the said Owner/Manager was already helping the Police.  Days after the incident, no one could describe her because according to the Owner/Manager and all her staff, she always wore face masks. The Security guard at the premises stated that the suspect had come to the gate to receive delivery from a delivery man who later told him after the suspect had taken her delivery, that it was drugs. 

All parties involved in this ugly incident have now spoken, barring Usifo Ataga, who is no more. The dead can not talk, so it is with Usifo. Who will speak for Usifo Ataga? I pray the facts of the case speak for him, especially as we consider that no amount of chicanery, sophistry, blatant lies and/or conjectures can defeat the evidence of solid facts. 
What are the facts that we know? Usifo died a horrific death. He was not stabbed 2 or even 5 times; he was stabbed multiple times. His hands were bound tightly, and the marks were still all over his wrists, accompanied with evidence of torture and assault even as his corpse lay in the morgue. And no one in the entire building heard his screams because he was gagged. Let that sink in, he was bound, gagged and tortured! The now viral video of the room with the deceased lying on the floor, shows a room with blood-stained walls and floor, evidence of a ferocious struggle. One person could never have carried these out!

She claims that Usifo Ataga tried to rape her. How preposterous can one really get? The truth is that the allegation of an attempted rape is such an easy and convenient one for any woman alone in a room with a man to make. Even if both of them are alive, without CCTV, how does the man conclusively prove that he didn’t make such an attempt? The credibility of those involved and circumstances around the case must come into play in search of the truth. A man you claim to have been sleeping with and that you were so eager to sleep with him that you eagerly booked an apartment yourself and came to expressly sleep with him, not for a few hours but for days on end, and that he had already slept with you twice, tried to rape you and hit your head against the wall with no evidence of head bruises, even as you left the apartment that same day? Come on, the story doesn’t add up. This is the same woman it has now come to the fore that at least on one occassion, 3 to 4 years ago, was arrested for blackmailing a married man and using an innocent security man’s back account to collect the money. She must have been at most, 18 years old then, if not younger! She is clearly a pathological liar, remorseless, calm and assured, and didn’t start today.

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She said they did drugs, The toxicology reports are not out yet, but if any drug is found in Usifo’s system, then it makes this dastardly act even worse, he must have been surreptitiously drugged!

In this day of bank transfers, whoever gives you their Bank card and pin number, when they can easily transfer any amount to you, if indeed he gave her his card and said take anything you want, as she claimed? Did he also give her his BVN? How did she obtain it? Usifo Ataga’s company had some substantial amount of money in an Escrow account, and the first attempt was to try and move the money. Was this done before or after Usifo Ataga had been killed? Then someone sent in instructions trying to change his Banking security details, and that flagged up the account and the account was promptly blocked. She claimed that she wanted money for school fees, did she need a billion Naira for her school fees? The fact was that because these funds were in an Escrow account, torture Usifo Ataga all you wanted then, he simply could not, and was not able to move even a dime from the money even if he wanted to! Then, his money in another account was now moved to his account that they had his ATM card and then went on siphoning his funds. The speed and sophistication of these dealings were alarming.

The facts in a nutshell tell us that, this incident was neither an accident, nor a drug fuelled sexcapade gone wrong! It was a premeditated, well set up conspiracy to murder. One person, however strong could not have tied and gagged Usifo Ataga and then carried out all that was done, talkless of this woman. The police who have more evidence than I have stated here, have explicitly stated as such. Those still pandering to these salacious slants of these social media stories are just unnecessarily muddying the waters. This is as clear a case of conspiratorial homicide as you will ever get given the circumstances.

And just as Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance from the ground, as the good Scripture says, and in the absence of anyone speaking for Usifo Ataga, may Usifo’s blood shed so callously all over that apartment floor and walls by cowards, speak volumes on his behalf.

*Aniemena, a friend of the deceased, writes from Lagos

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