Court acquits

A Benue State Polytechnic lecturer, Andrew Ogbuja has been acquitted of the charges of rape and death of 13-year-old schoolgirl, Ochanya Ogbanje, on Thursday April 28.

It can be recalled that in 2018, it was reported that the minor was constantly raped by her aunt’s husband, Andrew and his son, Victor, until she took ill and died.

Ochanya who was buried in November 2018, battled Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) and other health complications at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi before she passed away.

In a recent development, the prime suspect, Ogbuja, has been acquitted by the Benue state High Court Judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman, on grounds that the prosecution couldn’t prove the four-count charge against him.

The Judge assessed two autopsy reports from the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi and the Nigeria Police Forensic Laboratory in Lagos, and stated that the police investigators didn’t medically examine Ogbuja to match his specimen with that of the deceased.

Ityonyiman, who was reportedly perplexed by the situation, said the autopsy report from the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi said Ogbanje died from natural causes, while the one from the Nigeria Police Forensic Laboratory in Lagos said she died from a sickness related to sexual abuse.

Although the deceased narrated the agonizing experience she passed through in the hands of the Ogbujas in a video evidence presented in court, Ityonyiman said he regrets that she couldn’t share her story before she died and then acquitted the lecturer of all charges.

However, in a separate case filed against his wife, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja, before the Federal High Court in Makurdi by NAPTIP – National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons, she was convicted of negligence in the rape of the minor.

She was accused of failing to protect the deceased from being raped and abused by her husband and son.

The Judge in charge of her case, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, said Mrs Felicia failed in her duty to care and protect the minor, allowing her son to abuse her even after her daughter, Winifred, drew her attention to the sexual assault.

Judge Olajuwon also noted that Mrs Felicia didn’t challenge claims that she threatened to throw the minor out of the house if she told anyone about the sexual abuse.

Olajuwon added;

“When Ochanya was examined, it was discovered that the membrane covering the vagina opening was not there, which is an indication that Ochanya had been deflowered.

“During examination, it was discovered that Ochanya had urinated on her bed as she could not hold her bladder.

“The medical report further stated that a working diagnoses of the fecal and urinanary incontinence in a sexually abused child was made.”

She added that asides the physical injuries, the minor would have been scarred for life if she had survived the abuses.

In passing her judgement, Judge Olajuwon said,

“I hold that the defendant is guilty as charged in respect of count one and that the defendant is guilty as charged contrary to Section 314 of the Criminal Code and she is hereby convicted.”

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