Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, the 51-year-old lecturer in the Department of Catering and Hotel Management, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, who was arraigned before a Makurdi chief magistrate’s court yesterday, escaped mob action by angry women that wanted to lynch him over the death of 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbaje.
The offence, Criminal Conspiracy and Culpable Homicide, is punishable under Sections 97 and 222 of the Penal Code Laws of Benue State, 2004. Ogbuja’s arraignment followed his alleged complicity in the serial rape of a minor, Ochanya Ogbaje, who died earlier this month from medical complications arising from the said act. At the hearing of the case, the First Information Report, FIR, filed by the Police indicated that on October 22 the matter was reported by one Evangelist Enuwa Soo, through a petition to the Benue State Police Commissioner. The allegations Part of the FIR read: “On June 23, the family of 13 years old Miss Ochanya Ogbaje 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 carnal knowledge of her, 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 admitted several times in hospital for treatment, but she later died on October 17, 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. Defence 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 and judgment already being passed on the accused before trial. In his ruling, 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 for further mention. … and angry women 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. The women went berserk when they saw the accused making his way out of the court for a waiting Police van and surged forward to mob the accused but the Police prevented them. The placard-bearing women from different parts of the state, under the auspices of the National Council of Women Societies, NCWS, displayed “Ogbuja must die by hanging,” “We demand Justice in this matter,” among others. Speaking to newsmen shortly after the court sitting, state President of NCWS, Chief Grace Okochi, said Benue women were pained by what happened to Ochanya and for what other women in the country were going through. According to her, “we are not going to take it lightly if anything funny happens in this matter. We need justice in this case and I beg the Police to go after the son and arrest him. “They used the little girl through the anus and vagina for several years, leading to her condition and eventual death. “Thank God that before the girl died, she confirmed that it was the man and his son that raped her persistently.”