By Fatima Muraina
The International Federation of Women Lawyers, (FIDA) Nigeria has called for immediate justice for Miss Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje, a 13-year-old girl who was raped to death in Benue state .
This was contained in a release signed by the Benue state Chairman of FIDA, Dr. Magdalene Dura and made available to The Hope in Akure, Ondo state.
According to the statement, in June 2018, a case of rape was reported to FIDA Benue involving 13 years old Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje.
The suspects were named as Andrew Ogbuja (father) and Victor Ogbuja (son) who in particular, also indulged in anal sex with Ochanya.
Ochanya, the victim, was at that time suffering from Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) as a result of the rape for over two years.
On the 8th of August, FIDA Benue took the victim, her mother Rose Abah and her care giver, Evangelist Margaret Soo (Founder of Restorer of Paths Care Foundation located in Otukpo, Benue State) to the Family Unit of the Police State Command, and made a complaint of rape against the two suspects.
This led to the arrest of the first suspect, Andrew Ogbuja , who was arraigned before Upper Area Court 1 in Makurdi on the 13/08/18 and granted bail on the 23/08/18.while his son, Victor Ogbuja remained at large.
On the next adjourned date 24/09/18, the Court did not sit and the case was further adjourned to the 5th of November 2018.
Meanwhile, the statement explained that the case file was forwarded for Legal advice to the Ministry of Justice and assigned to a State Counsel.
FIDA Benue,the statement said, was able to get free treatment for Ochanya through a programme of theBenue state First Lady Her Excellency, Eunice Ortom, titled “Free Treatment for VVF Cases in Benue State”.
The statement contained that Ochanya was examined and referred to Jos Teaching Hospital for corrective surgery. However, upon further examination at Jos, she was put on drugs and her care giver informed the Branch that she was steadily responding to the drugs.
Sadly, Evangelist Margaret Soo (care giver) on the 17th October, informed FIDA Benue that Ochanya had died on the same day at Ultimate Care Hospital in Otukpo.( Not Benue State University Teaching Hospital as speculated)
FIDA Benue, however wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police for the rearrest and arrest of both suspects for the offences of Criminal Conspiracy and Culpable Homicide.
It could be recalled that the National Secretary of FIDA, Rhoda Prevail Tyoden had written a press release of the untimely and unjust passing of their tender client, Ogbanje, allegedly following years of sexual abuse, defilement and violation at the hands of her uncle, Mr Andrew Ogbuja and cousin, Mr Victor Ogbuja.
She had suffered silently for 6 years and at the time of reporting, she was already suffering from VVF and other related health complications. While making her report, Miss Ochanya recalled that at age 9, she had moved in with her aunt, Mrs Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja, after her parents separated, in a bid to attend school. Shortly after she started living there, the perverted father-son duo began sexually abusing her. She noted that it was her cousin Victor, a final year student of Animal Production at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, who first defiled her, but that her uncle also started abusing her after she had reported his son to him. Miss Ochanya’s uncle, Mr Andrew Ogbuja is a 51 year old lecturer, serving as the Head of Department, Catering and Hotel Management at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State.
Miss Ochanya painfully recalled how they would drug her before molesting her and threatened her with death if she ever revealed what was going on.
FIDA Nigeria however, called on the government to adopt, effectively implement and sensitise the public on the relevant provisions of these laws. In line with this, the criminal justice system can no longer afford to delay justice for victims. The high costs of lengthy trial processes are ill-suited to the sensitive nature of sexual abuse/defilement trials. The judiciary should set up special courts to specifically deal with such sensitive matters and to ensure expedited trial processes.
The society must also play its role in ensuring that the child defilement epidemic does not continue to persist in Nigeria.
It contained that greater concern and condemnation for such heinous acts can no longer encourage the culture of silence to foster, and we must be more accommodating of victims.
It raised the need for the Nigerian health system to institutionalise psychological therapy so that more victims are able to receive the counselling and rehabilitation they need.
Thanks association urged parents to provide sexual education to their children, in addition to creating an enabling environment for dialogue so that children can speak out when they are facing abuse.
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