THE family of late Michael Usifo Ataga, who was allegedly stabbed to death by Miss Chidinma Ojukwu, a 300 level student of the University of Lagos, last week, in the Lekki area of Lagos, has urged the Police to carry out an in-depth investigation into the matter, to unravel identities of others involved.
The family’s position is based on the suspicion that some yet-to-be-identified persons were involved in their son’s death.
This came on a day that management of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, said it will this week suspend Miss Chidinma Ojukwu, who is a part-time student.
Usifo’s neck was broken —Family
But a member of the family, who spoke with Vanguard in confidence, yesterday, disclosed that there were minor bruises on late Usifo’s body during its inspection in the morgue.
It was further revealed that late Usifo’s neck was broken when inspected. Sources also disclosed that there were marks on his wrists, suggesting that he could have been bound.
A rope suspected to have been used to tie his hands was reportedly found inside the short-let apartment on 19 Adewale Oshin Street in Lekki phase 1.
Elder brother to the deceased, Dr. Isi Ataga, in a statement entitled: Who will speak for Usifo Ataga?’, also confirmed these findings.
He said: “Usifo died a horrific death. He was not stabbed two or even five 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.”
Go beyond Chidimma’s arrest
Similarly, the Ataga family has urged the Police to go beyond the arrest of the suspect.
The family, in another statement entitled: Libelous Publications In Respect of Murder Of Michael Usifo Ataga: Demand For Restraint By Social Media Practitioners/Persons,’ by Rickey Tarfa & Co, solicitor to the family, warned those behind the social media publications to refrain from publishing falsehood that impinges negatively on the integrity of the deceased, wife and children or face lawsuits.
The statement signed by Olusegun Jolaawo, SAN, on behalf of the law firm, urged Nigerians to allow the police to conduct their investigations without any distraction or interference.
The statement reads: “We, hereby, admonish the publishers of these stories to employ whatever shreds of decency and decorum they can find in themselves to desist from their false and misleading stories and let the investigating authorities carry out an effective investigation in the hope of apprehending the perpetrators of this heinous crime and their accomplices.
“Yes we know that Chidinma Adaora Ojukwu has been arrested and yes we know that investigation is continuing. Our client is however convinced that there is much more to this than is already apparent from the police investigation,” Jolaawo said in the statement.
”It has become apparent even to the most undiscerning reader that from the variety and inherent malice in most of the said publications that they are planted to embarrass and malign Usifo Ataga, Brenda Ataga and the family, and to serve as a smokescreen to enable the perpetrators of the heinous crime to cover their tracks”.
”Our client appreciates the efforts of the law enforcement agencies in their investigations thus far, and will not descend into particulars concerning any of the said false narratives so as not to inadvertently aid the perpetrators of the murder in covering their tracks.”
The lawyer lamented that the tragic incident of the cold-blooded murder of late Michael Ataga has inundated all strata of the media with inconceivable stories being peddled on all sorts of platforms about the incident and therefore called for restraints from the publishers of the unfounded stories.
Jolaawo said: “Our client at this juncture requests that the well-meaning public allow the family to mourn their departed son, father and husband with some privacy and decency.
“Our client also feels very strongly about the unbridled activities of bloggers on the social media space concerning this incident and firmly demands that the said bloggers cease from peddling falsehood aimed at maligning the deceased, wife and children.
“The family will not be intimidated by these bloggers’ activities and insist that the police be allowed to do their work.
”Our client hereby demands that the false publications and the several ordinarily unrelated stories and pictures of late Michael Usifo Ataga and Brenda Ataga be pulled down with immediate effect failing which our client shall take prompt and appropriate action to seek redress for the apparent instances of libel and slander as appropriate.
UNILAG Senate to decide on Chidinma’s fate
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that the Senate of the institution is set to meet on the matter and decide her fate before the commencement of activities to mark the 51st Convocation Ceremony of the university.
The activities lined up for the convocation ceremony will kick off on Wednesday with a press briefing by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.
Sources at the university said: “There are reasons the university has not officially spoken on the matter. But the Senate of the university will meet and decide her case before we start activities for our convocation ceremony. The convocation ceremony would have held early last year but for what happened then.
“The ceremony is going to start on Wednesday and we don’t want that ugly incident to take the shine off the event and when official action is taken about the matter, it won’t be what people will focus on when we are holding the convocation ceremony.
“What she reportedly told the police while being paraded, and other materials about her case would be used to decide her fate and she is going to be suspended until her fate is decided by the court.”