George Okoh in Makurdi
A 51-year old senior lecturer in the Department of Catering and Hotel Management, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, was thursday arraigned on a fresh charge at the Chief Magistrate Court 1 in Makurdi, for criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide.
The court equally remanded him in prison custody for alleged rape and persistent molestation of his 13-year old housemaid, Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbaje.
When the case came up, the First Information Report (FIR), read to the accused ,said that on the October 22, 2018, the case was reported by one Evangelist Enuwa Soo of No2/4 Potter Avenue Otada, Otukpo Local Government Area (LGA), through a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command.
According to the FIR, on June 23, 2018, the family of one Miss Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje of Agene Amen in Okpokwu LGA aged 13, noticed that one Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer with Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo and his son, one Victor Ogbuja, has been criminally having unlawful carnal knowledge of her since she was living with them in their house, which resulted to her been diagnosed of having Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and other related deceases.
“Ochanya was admitted in the hospital for treatment where she later died on October 17, 2018, at Federal Medical Centre, in Makurdi,” said the FIR.
The court further heard that, during police investigation one Andrew Ogbuja was arrested for the offence while his son is still at large, adding the offence is punishable by section 97 and 222 of penal code laws of Benue State, 2004.
The counsel to the accused, Anthony Onoja however, observed that the media have been awashed with reports about his client who has not been proven guilty.
According to him, if care is not taken, such reports would not allow the matter to go on smoothly.
He appealed to the trial judge to protect his client from the hands of journalists and also caution the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), noting that he has no objection over the remand of his client.
However, the Presiding Magistrate, Issac Ajim overruled Onoja , saying no plea was taken for want of Jurisdiction and remanded the accused at the Federal Prison.
The case was adjourned to November 29 for further mention.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the court sitting, the President of the National Council of Women Society, Benue State chapter, Mrs. Okochi said that the women of the state are in pains for what happened to late Ochanya and for what other women in the country are going through.
“We are not going to take it lightly; we need justice in this case and l beg the police to go after the son and his mother and arrest them, prosecute them especially, the mother who harbour late Ochanya for five years.
Meanwhile, the Acting Governor of Benue State, Benson Abounu, has urged the police and judiciary to ensure that justice is done over the death of Ogbaje.
Abounu described the act as inhuman, shameful and deserving of nothing less than appropriate punishment for the perpetrators.
He 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.