From time immemorial, there is always a thin line between peace and trouble, life and death, joy and despair.
Naturally, what comes to mind after each episode of such a self-inflicted calamity is the question, why did I venture into it.
From her looks when she was paraded by the Lagos Command of the Nigeria Police Force, the 21-year-old 300 level student of the University of Lagos, Miss Chidinma Ojukwu, the principal suspect in the gruesome murder of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga would have wished she didn’t embark on the sex escapades that have left bloodstains on her hands.
Before the news of the death of her lover hit the media landscape, Chidinma would have passed any street without attracting any attention. She looks innocent and harmless.
However, the depths of depravity she was linked with that heart-rendering account of the police during her parade on Thursday will make one understand the link between chaos and charm.
As she gave a chilling account of the bloody encounter with her dead lover, Chidinma cuts a gory picture of a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold.
She was arrested alongside her father at their residence, No. 57 Akinwunmi Street, Alagomeji, Yaba, on Wednesday.
According to a source, her father was detained at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba, for resisting Chidinma’s arrest because he never believed his adorable daughter was a younger version of the Biblical Jezebel with blood on her hands until she gave her account of the savage killing of her secret lover.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, had earlier said the 21-year-old undergraduate was tracked for 48 hours and was arrested at her parent’s residence in the Yaba area of the state on Wednesday.
He stated that casual workers cleaning the building, where the incident took place, discovered Ataga’s remains in the service apartment.
Odumosu said, “The victim, one Usifo Michael Ataga, happened to operate a media house. The lady, Chidinma Ojukwu, 21, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos, checked into the service apartment in Lekki with the man on a Sunday.
“They were there together as friends, but on Tuesday, she departed and left the man inside. So, when the man did not come out on Tuesday and Wednesday, those who were evacuating the trash bins went in to do their normal duty and discovered that the door to the apartment was half-opened.
“When they entered, Ataga was found on the floor in a pool of blood. He wore only his pair of boxers. So, we started our investigation and we were able to track the prime suspect and got her arrested. She has confessed to the crime.
“She said the drugs and alcohol that both of them took got them high and they were trying to have fun, but she resisted and the man insisted on having his way and that led to the fracas. She reached out for the kitchen knife and stabbed the man twice in the neck and once in the stomach. After he died, she took his belongings and fled.”
Her confession of a drug binge with the deceased has however shown that if the Super TV boss had survived the attack that claimed his life, he would have joined his mistress at the police station for sundry offences including the use of hard drugs.
Gentle and Dangerous
Few hours after she was paraded, a video surfaced on social media showing her sitting in a roadside beer shop, with a pair of scissors dangling menacingly in her hand. It was an encounter with two men who exchanged banters with her. In the video, Chidinma was seeing laughing loudly as the two men continued to hail her for an undisclosed reason. But unfolding realities have shown that beneath that innocent laughter was a drug addict, a criminal with uncommon savagery. That was days or even months before she was introduced to Ataga.
Those who know her described her as a recluse. She however turned out to be a beautiful, soft-spoken lady with the fury of a rattlesnake. One of her classmates in Unilag, where she schools as a 300-level part-time Mass Communication student, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Yes, she (Chidinma) is a 300-level part-time student of Mass Communication. I know her, but we are not on talking terms; she doesn’t interact with many people. She is a recluse.”
Perhaps, what best described the character of the suspect are the items recovered from her by the police.
The exhibits found in her possession include a driving licence, complimentary cards, Access Bank’s statement of account, a Nigerian passport with number B50010434 belonging to the suspect, one fake driving licence bearing Mary Johnson with the suspect’s photograph, one National Identification card bearing the suspect’s name, UBA Automated Teller Machine debit card bearing the suspect’s name and a University of Lagos ID card in her name.
From all indications, Chidinma is not as innocent and naïve as she looks. For a 21-year-old lady to be going about with fake items like a driving licence, it means she is neck-deep in crime and who knows, Ataga might not be her first victim.
Chidinma: Why I struck
Curiously, the suspect did not make any attempt to shield herself from the dastardly act, admitting her complicity in a defiant manner that shocked even the police team investigating her.
During her parade, Chidinma confessed that she had withdrawn N380,000 from the deceased’s account to pay her school fees. She alleged that Ataga became violent after she turned down his request for more sex, adding that she stabbed him under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
She said, “I checked for the place we lodged in online on Sunday and sent the details to him and he paid. On Monday, we were together drinking and smoking, we had fun and so I went to get food. On Tuesday, he was trying to make advances at me, but I was tired and he became violent and forced his way and I gave in.
“In the afternoon, we smoked and ate. We became high and I wasn’t happy with the first round of sex; so, I was on my own smoking, drinking, and eating my food when he came to me, while I was watching a movie.
“I told him I was not happy with what he did the first time. I told him he was not assisting me with anything but was playing around with me. He told me to take his ATM card and withdraw any amount I wanted and gave me the PIN, but I told him that was not what I meant.
“So, he became violent; I was defending myself and at some point, he hit my head on the wall and I retaliated. He was choking me and I was on the kitchen cabinet, so I stretched out and grabbed a knife and stabbed him twice in the neck and once in the stomach.”
When Ataga became weak, Chidinma said she fled the apartment and withdrew money from his account for her school fees.
She said, “We smoked SK and Loud. While he was lying there, I changed my cloth, looked for the key from where he kept it and left the room. When I left, I didn’t reach out to anybody. I didn’t feel good about what I did.
“I withdrew N380,000 and not N5m from his account. I feel a lot of remorse. I wanted to use the money I withdrew to pay my school fees. I felt disappointed when the police arrested me at my parents’ house and it was when I was arrested around 10 pm that my parents got to know about the incident.
“I live with my parents; I left home on Sunday and told them that I was going for ushering job. I used the foreign number I generated in texting the owner of the apartment.”
Some commentators argued that the suspect might not be telling the whole truth about the incident, suspecting that Chidinma might be a member of a syndicate using young and beautiful girls as baits for randy men in the country.
For instance, they argued that it would be practically difficult for her to overpower Ataga, who she claimed to have been stabbed three times over argument over sex.
One of the issues they raised is the need to get the identities of those who made additional withdrawals from the victim’s account since Chidinma insisted she only withdrew N380,000.
However, a Lagos-based psychologist and Founder, Total Psyche Services and Consult, Mrs. Olasumbo Oshinubi explained that whatever roles played by Chidinma in the unfolding drama should be seen as a failure of parenting.
She said, “Parenting, done properly, is a heroic act”. It is a very hard job that if care is not taken, losing one’s responsibility as a parent to the modern-day idea of what parenting should look like, in an individualistic system we have adopted recently, is very easy.
“Once parenting starts, it doesn’t end and no one has a final grip on it yet; especially these days. So, growing with one’s children and equipping them with a solid foundation requires: unlearning faulty patterns, relearning poorly learned ones, and learning new and well-grounded patterns to prevent dangerous surprises as a parent.”
However, speaking on the role of drugs in crimes, Oshinubi said incidents like the Chidinma’s case have underscored the urgency of the need to fight drug addiction among Nigerians.
According to her, “People, especially young people, use drugs for several reasons which include: fitting in with peers; self-medicating pains ( mostly psychological pains) to feel good because abused drugs interact with the brain chemistry to produce feelings of pleasure; some youths may take drugs because they think the substance will enhance their performance; seeking new and adventurous experiences are some of the experiments young people perceive as thrilling and daring, so they experiment with drugs.
In her reaction, a parent, who is also a retired school principal, who spoke under the condition of anonymity described the murder incident as a manifestation of the decadence in the society.
She wondered why Alaga would settle for a lady as young as his daughter for his uncontrolled sexual and drug binges.
“When you lodge a girl as young as your daughter in a private apartment, feeding her with drugs and alcohol to take advantage of her assumed innocence, then you should blame yourself for whatever level of stress you put yourself.”
For Chidinma’s father, the parent said the man should cover his face in shame, for living with a child he didn’t know very well.
She believed Chidinma’s father has failed in his responsibility by watching helplessly while his child was becoming a monster.
From the account of a senior lecturer of the Mass Communications Department of the University of Lagos, Dr. Bunmi Ajibade, Chidinma has been a truant, who was last seen on campus before the Covid-19 lockdown. Ajibade, who lamented that Nigerian students are taking to drugs, sex, and alcohol, blamed Chidinma’s parents for their insensitivity to the changing behaviour of their daughter.