Nigerians, particularly human rights activists, have demanded for justice over the death of a 13-year-old Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbaje.
Ochanya had battled Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) and other health complications at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi after being allegedly severely abused by one Andrew Ogbuja, Head of Department, Catering and Hotel Management at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State, and his son, Victor Inalegwu Ogbuja, a final year student of Animal Production at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
The duo consistently molested little Ochanya, a student of Federal Government Girls’ College, Gboko since she was 9 to age 13.
An Upper Area Court One in Makurdi, Benue, presided over by Justice S. D. Kwen had in August remanded Mr. Ogbuja in prison custody for criminal conspiracy and rape of the teenager.
The prosecution had told the court that on August 8, 2018, at about 12:00 noon, the body of women lawyers (FIDA) in Benue State had in company of one Mrs Rose Abah of Ogene Amadu Edumoga reported the matter to the police.
The First Information Report (FIR), indicated that the complainant, Mrs Abah told the police that sometimes in February 2018, when her daughter, Elizabeth, was sick and admitted at FMC Makurdi, she told her that, when she was staying with her cousin sister, Felicia Ogbuja, between 2013 and 2015, the son of the same cousin sister by name Victor Ogbuja, had canal knowledge of her.
The court further heard that the husband to the cousin sister, Andrew Ogbuja, also had canal knowledge of the teenager and that during police investigation, the said accused, Andrew was arrested for committing the offence while his son, Victor, is at large.
But, the accused, pleaded with the judge to temper justice with mercy and grant him bail to enable him go back home and resolve the matter amicably considering his status.
Justice S. D. Kwen, however, rejected the plea and consequently sent the lecturer to Makurdi Federal Prison pending the determination of the matter.
Sadly, molested and sodomized Ochanya, during the weekend, lost the battle and took her last breath.
This is also as the suspect was allegedly granted bail without the family’s knowledge and is said to be on the run.
Irked by the ugly and sad development, Nigerians are demanding for justice for the late infant.
Condemning the barbaric act, Federal Government Girls’ College Gboko Old Students’ Association has planned to stage a protest over the ugly incident.
The association in a statement issued on Monday, called on the federal government and the relevant authorities to bring the suspect and his son to book.
“This is an outrage to FGGC Gboko, all female children, all women, Benue State, Nigeria and indeed the World. The advent of social media has brought to the fore the raging menace of child abuse and rape within our homes, communities, and nations. It is time that social media is also used to stop this menace.
“As a body, we demand that the perpetrators, indeed murderers, be called to justice and severely punished. Mr. Andrew Ogbuja and Victor Inalegwu Ogbuja should be arrested for homicide and charged with first degree murder. They should be made to feel the full wrath of Lady Justice. They should bear the brunt of the Law in quantum measures. It was not enough for them to hurt young Ochanya from age 8; they had to repeat the barbaric sessions within a 6-year period. We can only describe such tendencies as animalistic, with special apologies to animals. As such, they deserve jungle justice. No mercy.” It stated.
Also, speaking on the development, the Councilor Representing Eke Ward in Benue, Hon Dan Atayi, called on all Benue sons and daughters as well as well-meaning Nigerians, particularly the women folks to join their voices so the culprits would be forced to face the law.
“The act is a devilish omen that has appeared and happened in our land of birth! We condemn it in totality, we detest it with fierce rejection and we call on our trado-cultural Custodians (Och’Idoma, The Ede of Edumoga, the Idoga of Ugbokolo, the Ad’Okpokwu) to perform a cleansing rite of these ugly menace before the fate of the spirits of vengeance visit our land.
“The struggle for justice for the late young Ochanya should encompass beyond politics and religious affiliations. What is right in our society should be pressured to be in equity regardless of how highly connected we are. We call on the government of Benue State, Okpokwu and all notable stakeholders across party lines to demonstrate and show concern against this alienation and barbaric act.
“We eschew bitterness and animosity; we eschew witch hunts and negative suspicions as we drive this quest for justice for the soul of Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje to rest in peace,” he said.
Also adding her voice, human rights activist and blogger, Mimi Atedze, insisted that the perpetrators must be brought to book without delay.
She said, “The serial rapists must be punished for this act…the Child’s Right act 2003 states clearly that “Nobody should engage in any unlawful sexual intercourse with a child. #JusticeForOchanya.”
On her part, human rights activist and Executive director, Cee-Hope Nigeria, Betty Abah condemn the release of the suspect without the family’s consent.
According to her, “As at the last hearing on Sept. 24, the accused was not in court. He had been released from prison without the knowledge of the victim’s family, even when he wasn’t granted bail at the earlier sitting.
“His co-accused son, Victor Ogbuja, a student at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, remains on the run.
Rape by father and son, anal and vagina, started when she went to stay with the family at age 8 (wife is her aunt) in order to be able to go to school.
“She died October 18, 2018 at the General Hospital, Otukpo from the complications and was buried Oct. 21, 2018 in her village in Benue State, following an autopsy.
“Now, the question: who released the accused from prison custody in Makurdi without the court’s and girl’s family knowledge, and when he had not been granted bail?”
When contacted, the Benue State Police Command said the case was no longer in its custody.
“This case has been on for long, why are they trying to politicize it? We did out job by arresting the suspect and subsequently charged him to a law court. If the said suspect was granted bail, the question should be directed to the judge and not the police,” the state PRO, Moses Yamu told our reporter on Monday.