Saturday, May 18, 2024

DNA blood on Chidinma’s dress matched Ataga’s, forensic expert tells court

The DNA expert told the court that he had practised in forensics for 15 years and had conducted over 500 forensic tests.

• April 16, 2024
Usifo Ataga and Chidinma Ojukwu

The 11th prosecution witness, Richard Somiari, in the alleged murder trial of Chidinma Ojukwu, said the DNA blood sample found on the accused’s red dress matched that of the victim, Usifo Ataga.

Mr Somiari, a director and consultant for the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre, gave his evidence before the Tafawa Balewa Square Division of the Lagos High Court on Tuesday in Lagos.

Ms Ojukwu, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, is charged with the murder of Mr Ataga, the CEO of Super TV, alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu and one Adedapo Quadri.

At the resumed hearing, the witness was led in evidence by the Lagos deputy director of public prosecutions, Adenike Oluwafemi.

He told the court that he had practised in forensics for 15 years and had conducted over 500 forensic tests.

The forensic analyst told the court that his office received 21 items from their DNA centre staff members on different days. He said the items were received for evidence, including a stained red dress, an army green T-shirt, and a DNA sample from Chidinma Ojukwu. 

The DNA expert added that other items received were urine, blood, gastric content and bile, which were retained for a toxicology report.

Mr Somiari said that the goal was to create an evidence triangle to link the suspect to the crime scene and the victim. He said that the DNA on the red dress matched that of the victim, Mr Ataga.

Mr Somiari, however, said that Ms Ojukwu’s DNA did not match that of Babalola Disu and Oluwatomi Dada, the other suspects.

The first defendant’s counsel, Onwuka Egwu, cross-examined the witness.

The witness narrated how the toxicology report’s results were forwarded to the office of the attorney general of Lagos, the police commissioner, and the director of public prosecutions.

He, however, said not all forensic reports went through such a procedure.

When asked if he questioned the report Andrea Nuhu gave, the witness said, “I have already said that I am not a toxicologist. It is a toxicologist that can do such.”

Mr Egwu, however, requested that the video of the crime scene be played, and the court granted it.

While the video was playing, he asked the witness whether the blood samples on the cotton, the wall, the duvet, and the white polo the victim wore had been tested.

The witness answered that the samples were not submitted.

He, however, said that the markers indicated in his report had nothing to do with the video.

He had earlier said that some samples were in storage but not tested.

The second defendant’s counsel, Babatunde Busari, also cross-examined the witness.

Mr Busari asked if any DNA sample was taken from the second defendant, Mr Quadri, and the witness said no.

The counsel also asked the witness if he took part in the toxicology analysis, to which he answered no.

The third defendant’s counsel, C.G. Ugochikwu, said she had no examination for the witness.

After listening, Justice Yetunde Adesanya adjourned the case until May 30 for continuation of trial.

Ms Ojukwu and the two others were arraigned on October 12, 2021, by the Lagos government.

Ms Ojukwu and Mr Quadri are facing the first to eight counts bordering on conspiracy, murder, and stabbing.

Mr Egbuchu, however, is facing the ninth count of stealing an iPhone 7 belonging to Mr Ataga. 


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