Ochnaya: Court Acquits Lecturer Of Rape, Death Of 13-Year-Old, Convicts Wife Of Negligence

-Ogbuja, late Ochanya, Victor
State High Court sitting in Makurdi on Wednesday, acquitted Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, accused of raping a 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje.
Also, the court on Thursday convicted the wife of the lecturer, Felicia Ogbuja
The 13-year-old schoolgirl later died at the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi on October 17, 2018, as a result of complications arising from rape.
Following a protest that trailed the death of the little girl, the Benue State Government on October 10, 2019, arraigned the 54-year-old lecturer in court.
The son Victor was reported to have been at large and the police manhunt for him had yet to yield any result.
Both Mr Ogbuja and his fugitive son, Victor, were accused of serially raping the 13-year-old girl until she fell ill and subsequently died.
Two cases were instituted against the lecturer, son and wife, while State Government instituted a case against the lecturer and son, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), had charged the lecturer’s wife Mrs Ogbuja at the Federal High Court for negligence leading to the rape and death of Ochanya.
Delivering judgement at the State High Court on Thursday, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman held that the prosecution failed to prove its four-count charge against Mr Ogbuja and thereby acquitted the lecturer.
Justice Ityonyiman, while acquitting Mr Ogbuja, held that police investigators failed to subject the defendant to medical examination in order to match his specimen with the findings in the medical reports that were presented before the court.
The judge held that two autopsy reports from the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi and the Nigerian Police Forensic Laboratory in Lagos left him quandary.
“I cannot pick and choose which of the autopsy reports to rely on in reaching a just conclusion of this case,” Mr Ityonyiman said.
He said while the autopsy report from the Medical Centre in Makurdi said Miss Ogbanje died of “natural cause,” the one from the Police forensic Laboratory said the deceased “suffered diseases that were related to sexual abuse.”
Despite narrating her ordeals at the hands of the Ogbujas in a video — tendered before the court, Mr Ityonyiman said, “it is regrettable that the deceased could not tell her story before she died.”
“I hereby acquit and discharge the defendant of all the four counts charge,” the judge held.
Also at the Federal High Court in Makurdi on Thursday, the trial judge, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon convicted, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja, for negligence in the rape of the deceased teenager.
Justice Olajunwo held that the defendant failed in her duty to protect Miss Ogbanje from “being sexually abused by her son, Victor.”
The judge in her judgement said, “Ochanya was being abused by the son of the defendant, but the “defendant who owed” the deceased girl “the duty of care to ensure that she was protected from such an act,” failed in doing so even when Mrs Ogbuja’s daughter, Winifred drew her attention to the sexual assault.
The judge noted that Mrs Ogbuja “made it impossible for the NAPTIP investigating officer to see and interrogate” her daughter, Winifred, in the course of the investigation of the matter.
Agreeing with the prosecution, the judge said “the evidence that Ochanya told the defendant (Mrs Ogbuja) about what was going on, and was not successfully challenged,” proved NAPTIP’s case.
The Judge also held that Mrs Ogbuja failed to challenge the prosecution’s evidence that she “threatened to send Ochanya out of her house if she told anyone about the sexual abuse. This evidence has neither been challenged nor controverted.”
“The defendant failed to perform her duty as it concerned the wellbeing of Ochanya, particularly as it comes to her protection from being sexually abused
The judge also said, “the fourth prosecution witness in his testimony, said Ochanya upon being presented for medical examination, complained of passing urine uncontrollably and had serious pain at the lower abdomen.”
“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 the 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 diagnosis of the facial and urinary incontinence in a sexually abused child was made,” the court held.
The court held the prosecution had been able to prove all the ingredients contained in count one of the charge.
“I hold that the defendant is guilty as charged in respect of count one.
“hold that the defendant is guilty as charged contrary to Section 314 of the Criminal Code and she is hereby convicted,” Justice Olajunwo declared.

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