Usifo Ataga and Chidinma Ojukwu

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

House of Representatives, Tuesday, asked the Nigerian Police Force to conduct a proper investigation into the alleged killing of Super TV Chief Executive Officer, Usifo Ataga and refrain from parading his suspected killer, Ms. Chidinma Ojukwu around to grant interviews on the matter.

The House also called on the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba Alkali to prevail on all police personnel to ensure that there was no violation of Human rights and media access to arrested persons in the future to avoid compromising the case in a court of law.

It also asked the IGP to ensure Ojukwu does not die in custody or commit suicide while in detention.

The resolutions were sequel to a motion titled “Call for the Compliance of the Police Force with the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Proper Investigation into the Death of Late Mr. Usifo Ataga”, moved under matters of urgent public importance at Tuesday plenary by Hon. Tolu Akande-Sadipe.

It will be recalled that Ojukwu, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, UNILAG, was arrested on Wednesday, 23rd June, 2021, over the murder of Ataga, in a service apartment in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

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Presenting her motion, Sadipe said that “since the arrest of Ms. Chidinma Ojukwu, she has been paraded around, granting interviews to various several news platforms, including the
Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), on the matter, causing the internet and news media to be agog with the discussion and dissecting the matter. This is despite the fact that the Police have already launched an investigation into the matter.

“The law of Nigeria does not allow for social media trials and matters that are sub judice (meaning before the court or not yet judicially decided) are not to be discussed by the media.

“Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty. Thus, so long as Ms. Ojukwu has not been proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, she is not to be labeled a criminal, or paraded about to conduct series of interviews on a case currently under investigation. Rather, the police are to conduct a proper investigation and allow the court to consider the matter and make an informed judgment.

“If Ms. Ojukwu continues to be paraded about for a social media trial, it could affect the determination and outcome of the case, as well as amount to a breach of her fundamental right to fair hearing, especially where she is labeled or treated as one guilty of a crime.”

The motion was roundly supported when subjected to a voice vote by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and was adopted by the House.

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