Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) on Monday heard how a text message written in poor English and sent to Late SuperTV owner, Usifo Ataga’s friend and co-founder of SuperTV, Mr Rahman Saliu raised suspicion.
Saliu said the deceased was fluent in English but the SMS sent to him by his suspected killer(s) from Ataga’s phone contained uncharacteristic errors.
The SMS, while a search was ongoing for Ataga’s whereabouts read, “I saw your missed call; I took some drugs that can made me sleeping.”
Saliu testified as the fifth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Chidinma Ojukwu, the prime suspect in Ataga’s murder.
Saliu, a network engineer, programmer and developer who was led in evidence by Lagos State Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DDPP) Mrs A. O. Oluwafemi wept as he described how Ataga was killed.
He told the court that the deceased was “tied hand and foot and killed like a chicken with multiple stab wounds to the ribs and surgery-like cuts to the neck.”
Saliu explained that he met the late Ataga 10 years ago, in the course of building the SuperTV App. He said Ataga, as CEO, usually chaired virtual management meetings on Mondays and executive meetings on Tuesdays by Microsoft link.
He said Ataga called him on Monday 14, June 2021, that he was having stomach pain, but he advised him to take his drugs and rest.
Saliu noted that he didn’t call Ataga back till he was done with a task that needed to be completed before the management meeting.
He said, “On Tuesday, I wanted him (the deceased) to come to the meeting to give him the completed task, so I started calling. My first call was at 11am, on June 15, 2021, I wanted to give him the brief that the task was easy in order to relieve him of his high blood pressure.
“I started calling him, he didn’t pick up his call nor did he return my message.
“Then I got a WhatsApp message from him. After reading the message, I said to myself, this is not Michael talking to me. The message read ‘I saw your missed call; I took some drugs that can made me sleeping’. The construction of that message was not Michael’s, because Michael was very fluent in English. I knew that was not Michael’s typing; it was someone else.”
Justice Yetunde Adesanya adjourned the continuation of trial till February 17.
Chidnma Ojukwu, a 300-level, Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos (Unilag), is facing trial alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri, for Ataga’s murder.