Hembadoon Orsar, in this report analyses efforts being made by various groups including, students union, women lawyers and council of women society to ensure quick dispensation of justice in the trial of those who allegedly raped a 13- year- old JSS 3 student, Elizabeth Ochanya to death in Benue state.
Concerned groups and individuals have continued to lament and agonise over the cruel treatment meted out to the 13- year- old rape victim,Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje in Benue state, resulting in her death.
Though, Ochanya’s corpse had been buried last weekend, people have continued asking relevant authorities to bring to book the perpetrators of the heinous act.
The deceased was allegedly serially raped by her aunt’s husband, Andrew Ogbuja, and his son, Victor.
As part of efforts to ensure that justice is served on Ochanya’s matter, her former colleagues at the Federal Government Girls College Gboko, Benue state staged a demonstration to the Government House in Makurdi, the state capital.
Speaking during the protest, Adoo Tyavyar lamented the pains their late colleague went through before she eventually passed on.
According to her, Ochanya is supposed to be in JSS 3 but due to complications she incurred for the repeated rape from Ogbuja and Victor she was unable to write the whole of JSS 2 examinations.
“We are saddened by what this little girl went through before she died. For three consecutive terms she could not return back to school to continue with her study till death,” she lamented.
Adoo who could not control her tears said, “I heard that this man that did this to Ochanya is a member of the Knights, this is how so many people are hiding in various worship places under the canopy of God to perpetrate evil acts on children.
“The alleged rapist ought to be Ochanya’s grandfather and counsellor, but he ended up being her slow killer. I want the government to sentence this man and his son to death by hanging, that is the only thing that will bring peace to Ochanya’s alma mata.
“Look at the man’s son, Victor who they said is a student who ought to be a brother to Ochanya to groom her to grow together, ended up being an alleged conspirator in her death. “
Adoo also called on security operators to arrest Felicia Ogbuja, Ochanya’s aunt who she accused of being an accomplice in Ochanya’s death.
Reacting to the development, the Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom said that he was pained by the demise of Ochanya.
Ortom stated this in Makurdi when he received 10 different groups including Old students of the Federal Government Girls College Gboko, who protested from Benue State University (BSU) to Government House to register their grievances over the death of Ochanya to demand quick dispensation of justice on the matter.
Represented by the Chief of Staff, Terwase Orbunde, Ortom said that he was saddened by the pain the little Ochanya went through up to the moment of her death, stressing that her future was cut short by the wicked hearts of the perpetrators.
”I feel pained because I have daughters. I am also a grandfather. What if it were my daughter? Why would an old man of that age and his son who is about to graduate in a university take to evil and terminate a life of an innocent minor, like Ochanya? The law must take its course on this matter,” Ortom said.
The governor condemned the dastardly act in its entirety, adding that all the abused people should speak out so that the World would know their plight and as well step in to arrest the situation.
He, however, admonished people against stigmatising victims of sexual abuse, stressing that if they were stigmatised most of them would not be encouraged to come out to make their cases public.
In his submission,the President, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade Gideon Obande called for a review of the justice system to give room for quick dispensation of cases, adding that justice delayed is justice denied.
Obande further sued for the acceleration of the hearing of the case, stating that NANS would continue to monitor the case to the end to ensure that Ochanya gets justice even in death.
The NANS president appealed to the Benue state government to immediately relieve Ogbuja of his appointment and should not wait until the case was finally determined.
Mr James Ogbeche who spoke for Concerned Citizens said that Ochanya needed justice and that was their top most priority.
The representative of Federal Government Girls College, Gboko where Ochanya, until her death was a student, Elizabeth a Manger, called for the arrest of the wife of Andrew Ogbuja, Felicia for negligence of her duty as a mother and care giver, even when her attention was drawn to Ochanya’ predicament by her daughter who caught Victor with Ochanya red handed.
“We demand a thorough, transparent and fair investigation. Justice must prevail for Ochanya and we demand the immediate arrest of Felicia Ochanya’s aunt who shielded her husband and son to serve as deterrent to other women out there.”
The protesters who were all in black, carrying placards with various inscriptions such as ‘speak justice for Ochanya’, ‘we are all Ochanya, it could happen to anybody;’ justice for Ochanya’, ‘Benue Women demand for Felicia Ogbuja’s arrest.’
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the 51 year old alleged rapist is a senior lecturer in the Department of Catering and Hotel Management, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo.
Andrew Ogbuja, is currently standing trial for criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide. The Presiding Magistrate, Isaac Ajim ordered for the remand of the suspect for his alleged involvement in the rape and persistent molestation of his 13 year old housemaid, Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbaje which led to her death.
When the case came up, the First Information Report (FIR),read to the accused ,showed that on the 22nd September 2018, the case was reported by one Evangelist Enuwa Soo of No2/4 Potter Avenue Otada Otukpo local government through letter of petition to the commissioner of police Benue state command.
According to the FIR, on 23-06-2018, the family of one Miss Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje of Agene Amen Okpokwu LGA aged 13, confirmed that one Andrew Ogbuja a lecturer with Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo and his son Victor Ogbuja has been criminally having unlawful canal knowledge of her since she was living with them in their house which resulted to her been diagnosed of having VVF and other related diseases.
It was gathered that Ochanya was admitted in the hospital for treatment where she later died on October 17, 2018 at the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi.
During police investigation one Andrew Ogbuja was arrested for the offence while his son Victor was at large.
According to the trial Magistrate, the offence is punishable under section 97 and 222 of penal code laws of Benue State 2004.
The counsel to the accused, Anthony Onoja, however, observed that the media have been awashed with reports of his client who has not been proven guilty.
He appealed to the trial Magistrate to protect lawyers from the hands of journalists and caution the authority of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), noting that he has no objection over the remand of his client.
However, no plea was taken for want of jurisdiction and the trial Magistrate ordered that the accused be remanded at the Federal Prison, Makurdi and adjourned the matter to the 29th of November for further mention.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the court sitting, President National Council of Women Society, Benue state chapter, Chief Mrs Okochi said that Benue women are in pains over what happened to Ochanya and for what other women in the country are going through.
“We are not going to take it lightly, we need justice in this case and l beg the police to go after the son and his mother and arrest them, prosecute them especially the mother who harboured the late Ochanya for five years.
“How can your husband and son be sleeping with your own sister’s daughter through the anus and vaginal which led to VVF and death and you kept quiet? Thank God that before the girl died, she confirmed that it was the man and his son that raped her to death “. She said, breaking down in tears.