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Even in death, Ochanya must have justice, Benue women cry

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Bizarre story of 13-yr-old girl whose guardian and his son took turns to rape until she died.

Just 13, an expected journey to life turned one for death. Ochanya Ogbuja was only five when her mother passed on. She was given out to her mother’s sister to avail her the much needed love and upbringing. That was a world too far for her.

Three years after landing at the Ogbujas, Ochanya was allegedly turned into a sex slave by the head of the family, 51 year old Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer in the Department of Catering and Hotel Management at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo. His son, Victor, also joined him in abusing the little girl. And so, at eight, Ochanya’s journey to death began.

The story of Ochanya has generated outrage within and outside Benue state and the demand for Justice has been the sing song on the lips of everyone that heard of the predicament of the innocent girl.

Ochanya’s horrifying story was made public when early in the year she took ill and after several medical observations she was diagnosed of Vesicovaginal fistula, VVF, and other related diseases.

Worried by her condition, family members made further inquiries and she confessed to the fact that she had been a sex slave in the home of Ogbujas.

According to the elder brother of the deceased, John Ameh, “we took her for treatment when we noticed that she was passing urine and stool uncontrollably.

“It was when our family carried out an investigation into her condition that she confessed that Mr. Ogbuja had over the years been abusing her through the vagina and anus and most times they drugged her before doing it to her since she was eight years.

“According to her, the son, Victor started it and when he was caught and reported to his father, he scolded him but later joined the son in doing the same thing to my sister.”

“It was while we were battling with her condition that Evangelist Enuwa Soo stepped in and took her into orphanage home from where she took her for medical attention in hospitals including the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, and the Jos University Teaching Hospital, JUTH with the assistance of the Wife of the Benue state Governor, Dr. Eunice Ortom.

“While this was going on the matter was also reported to the police who filed charges against Mr. Ogbuja in August and later released in mysterious circumstances by the court.”

Meanwhile, while the health condition of Ochanya deteriorated much later in the month, she was again rushed to Ultimate Care Hospital Otukpo, where she was admitted and later died on October 17, 2018.

Speaking on the health condition of Ochanya before her death, the Chief Medical Director, CMD, of Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, where the deceased was initially treated, Prof. Terlumu Sende said upon investigation and diagnosis, it was discovered that the girl repeatedly suffered penetration in her anus and vagina.

In her reaction, the Convener of the Benue Women Forum, BWF, and former federal lawmaker, Mrs. Rebecca Apedzan decried the fate that befell the young girl after efforts to save her life failed.

Mrs. Apedzan lamented that the alleged culprits in the heinous crime should be brought to justice and should not be allowed to walk the streets free.

“Honestly, we are not happy with the manner the matter is being handled presently, we are demanding proper prosecution of the father and son fingered in the serial rape of the little girl before her eventual death.

“Already, we are in touch with the Federation of International Women Lawyers, FIDA, and both local and international NGOs to ensure that the little girl gets Justice even in death.

“We learnt powerful forces are plotting to frustrate the case which is already in court but I can assure you that Benue women will come out in their numbers to attend all the hearings in the matter and we may also even embark on street protest to demand Justice for the deceased.” She stated.

Also speaking, Evangelist Enuwa Soo, the Good Samaritan and owner

of Restorer of Paths, Care Foundation who took up the care for the deceased, though short of words, lamented that the little girl died in her hands at the hospital where she was also on admission.

“She died in my hands in the hospital, it is rather unfortunate that she died after all we did to save her.” Evangelist Soo said as she sobbed.

Meanwhile, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, Ugbokolo branch where the accused is a lecturer, in a statement by its Chairman and Secretary, Ochogwu John and Emma Adah respectively also insisted that the law be allowed to take its full course in the matter.

Her former School, Federal Government Girls College, FGGC, Gboko where she was a JSS 1 student before her demise also added their voice to the call for Justice for the innocent soul.

A statement by the authorities of the institution said, “this is an outrage to FGGC Gboko, all female children, all women, Benue state, Nigeria and indeed the world.

“As a body, we demand that the perpetrators, indeed murderers be called to Justice and severely punished.”

In a statement on the matter, the Acting Governor of Benue State, Engineer Benson Abounu also urged the police and judiciary to ensure that justice was done over the death of Ochanya Ogbaje. .

Engineer Abounu who described the act as inhuman, shameful and deserving of nothing less than appropriate punishment for the perpetrators said “the State Government will give the police necessary support towards the prosecution of the case to its conclusion, to serve as deterrent to others with similar evil tendencies.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Ogbuja was Thursday re-arraigned before a Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court for Criminal Conspiracy and Culpable Homicide.

The offence is punishable under sections 97 and 222 of the penal code laws of Benue State 2004.

At the hearing of the case, the First Information Report, FIR, filed by the Police indicated that on October 22, 2018, the matter was reported by one Evangelist Enuwa Soo, through a petition to the Benue State Police Commissioner.

Part of the FIR read, “On June 23, 2018 the family of 13 year old Miss Ochanya Ogbanje of Agene Amen, Okpokwu local government area, noticed that Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer with Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo and his son one Victor Ogbuja had been criminally having unlawful canal knowledge of her minor since she was living with them in their house which resulted in her being diagnosed of Vesicovaginal fistula, VVF, and other related diseases.

“Ochanya was severally admitted in hospital for treatment but she later died on October 17, 2018 at the Ultimate Care Hospital Otukpo”

The court further heard that, during police investigation Andrew Ogbuja was arrested for the offence while his son who was a co-accused fled and was still at large.

In his submission, the Defence Counsel Anthony Onoja appealed to the court to protect his client from media trial, stressing that the media had been awash with reports of his client where judgement had already been passed on the accused before trial.

In his ruling, the presiding Chief Magistrate, Isaac Ajim took no plea for lack of jurisdiction to entertain the matter. He ordered that the accused be remanded at the Makurdi Medium Prison and adjourned the matter to November 29.

Meanwhile, the accused narrowly escaped mob action by angry women as he walked out of the court room but for the quick intervention of security personnel who smuggled him into a waiting police van and whisked him away.

Women carried placards some of which read, “Ogbuja must die by hanging”, “we demand Justice in this matter.” They gathered from parts of the state under the auspices of the National Council of Women Societies, NCWS, as early as 7am to witness the day’s proceedings.

They however went frenzy when they sighted the accused making his way out of the court for a waiting Police van when they surged forward to grab the accused but the quick intervention of the Police checked them.

Speaking to newsmen shortly after the Court sitting, State President of the NCWS, Chief Mrs. Grace Okochi said Benue women were pained by what happened to the late Ochanya and for what other women in the country were going through.

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