Family seeks international support against alleged defilement of deceased girl
The family of the 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje, who was allegedly raped to death by one Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, and his son, Victor, is calling for assistance of the international community to ensure justice prevails.
They have also petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, over alleged threats to their lives and intimidation of witnesses in the trial of the suspects.
Ochanya’s eldest brother, Mr. Ameh Ejekwonyilo, disclosed recently that he had received death threats from family members and political associates of the Ogbuja family.
According to Ejekwonyilo, the lives of his parents, siblings as well as witnesses are under threat for speaking out against the crime and seeking legal redress. He also alleged that a younger sibling to the suspects wife, who works at the Nigeria Prisons Service, Benue State Command, assaulted him at the premises of the Federal High Court in Makurdi, where he had gone to witness proceedings in the trial of Mrs. Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja earlier in April.
He therefore called on the nation’s police chief to investigate a petition he had written to the Nigerian Police Force Headquarters in Abuja in respect of the threats with a view to providing security for the deceased girl’s family and witnesses during the pendency of the suit.
Ejekwonyilo equally appealed to the United Nations, the US government and other international agencies and embassies in Nigeria to come to their aid with a view to getting justice served in the tragic death of his kid sister. He expressed concern that since the ugly incident, the Police were yet to arrest and prosecute the second suspect in the matter, Victor Ogbuja.
Recall that Ochanya died on October 17, 2018, after battling complications arising from the prolonged sexual assaults she had suffered at the hands of the Ogbujas for several years while living with them.
Ejekwonyilo stated: “I had in the past told the world about attempts to harass and intimidate my family as well as witnesses, by the family members of the Ogbuja’s and their in-laws, who claim to have very close ties with Senator Abba Moro, who is believed to be very powerful in view of the fact that he was a Minister of Interior, and a serving senator representing Benue South (Zone C) at the 9th Senate.
“While we had reluctantly believed Senator Moro’s denial at the inception of the case that he was not supportive of Ochanya’s alleged rapists or behind clandestine moves to kill the case through pleas from one of his aides, Mr. Austine Ochiga, who is the immediate elder brother to Mrs. Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (the suspects’ wife and mother, who is also a suspect in the sister case being handled by NAPTIP); recent revelations have however indicated to the contrary.
“Senator Moro’s denial was widely reported in the print, broadcast and social media last year when he stated in Ochanya’s village where he went to condole with our family, that his name was either being dropped or merely being maligned by his traducers. He reportedly warned all his aides to keep clear of the case.
“However, the recent harassment of one of the family members of the late Ochanya who is a key witness in the matter by political associates of the Ogbuja and Ochiga families is disturbing, to say the least.”
The complainant stressed that the calculation of the suspects’ family and political associates, is that if witnesses fail to attend court proceedings, the trial judge for lack of diligent prosecution would strike out the case. “I wish to put it on record that until this threat to my life is investigated and necessary measures are taken to assure and guarantee my safety, my life is in the hands of not only Mr. Inalegwu Ochiga but also the responsibility of the entire Ochiga and Ogbuja families,” he lamented.
Also speaking, the President, Federal Government Girls College Gboko Old Girls Association, FCT Chapter, Dr. Ngozi Adzodoh, called on the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom to follow through on his pledge to get justice served. She lamented the ‘epidemic’ of child sexual violations across the country and urged the federal government to declare a “national emergency” on the scourge.