Benue Arraigns Lecturer Over Rape, Death Of 13-Year-Old-Ochanya
Justice for 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje, who was reportedly raped to death by a senior lecturer of the Benue State Polytechnic, Andrew Ogbuaja is underway following his arraignment on Thursday by the state government.
Ochanya, who was allegedly raped by Ogbuaja and his son, Victor, eventually died on October 17, 2018 due to complications from the prolonged abuse.
Victor was said to still be at large when the case was heard at the State High Court, Makurdi.
The lecturer was arraigned on four charges bordering on rape and murder.
When the charges were read to the accused, he pleaded not guilty.
Following his plea, the prosecuting lawyer, P. M. Ukande, Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, Benue State, urged the court to remand the defendant and fix a date for trial.
The defence lawyer, Abel Onoja, said he was not against the application for trial but prayed the court to make an order to compel the prosecution to ensure that the medical experts named in the suit are physically brought before the court to testify.
“My Lord, I have a motion which seeks to compel the prosecutors to produce medical experts who have been mentioned in the proof of evidence to be put on notice as to their physical appearance in court, so that they can testify when the trial commences,” the defence lawyer said.
Reacting to the application, the prosecuting counsel said it was “premature to come up with such a request, given the fact that the trial has not fully commenced.”
The trial judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman, while agreeing with the prosecutor, overruled the defendant’s application, saying that “it is premature.”
Subsequently, the court adjourned the suit to November 14, 2019, for the commencement of trial.
Recall that Ogbuja was in October last year arraigned at the Chief Magistrate Court in the state for criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide. The court also remanded him in prison custody.
Also, Old Students Association of Federal Government College (FGC) Gboko, Benue State and other civil society oganisations in the country had protested against the death of Ochanya. The protesters demanded justice and proper prosecution of the suspects at Unity Fountain, Abuja.
Before her death at Benue State Teaching Hospital, the victim was a Junior Secondary School 1 student at the FGC. The girl, a cousin of the lecturer’s wife, was allegedly defiled by the suspects for about five years while she lived with them.