The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Benue State, Mr Mike Kusa, on Tuesday told a Makurdi Chief Magistrates’ Court that there is a prima facie case against Mr Andrew Ogbuja, a senior lecturer at the Department of Catering and Hotel Management, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, and his son, Victor Ogbuja, a final year student at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, over the rape and death of 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje.
Ochanya died in October last year due to complications arising from the alleged sexual molestation she suffered at the hands of the accused senior lecturer and his son. Ochanya’s death provoked national outrage and demonstrations across the country where human rights activists called for the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
Following nationwide protests and popular anger, Mr Ogbuja, who was granted bail under shady circumstances after being remanded by a Makurdi Area Court, was re-arrested and re-arraigned before Magistrate Isaac Ajim following the death of the minor.
At Tuesday’s proceedings, the police prosecutor, Mr Edward Imo, informed the court that the legal advice from the State’s Attorney-General stated categorically that “there is a prima facie case” against the defendants.
In the legal advice, which was sighted by our correspondent, the Attorney-General asked the police to intensity efforts to arrest the second defendant, Victor Ogbuja, who has been on the run since the news of Ochanya’s rape and death broke.
Marked: MoJ/LEG.3CR/39/100, dated January 10, 2019, and addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Benue State Command Headquarters, Makurdi; the Attorney-General said: “Arising from the health condition of the deceased due to multiple rape and sexual abuse resulting to grievous injuries confirmed by medical reports, it is our legal opinion that a case of criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide punishable with death under Sections 97 and 222 of the Penal Code Revised Edition (Laws of Benue State) 2004 has been made out against the above named accused person and shall be prosecuted accordingly.
“Efforts should be made to arrest Victor Ogbuja who is still at large, for Justice to take its course,” the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice appealed.
Tuesday’s proceedings was observed by a team of female lawyers under the auspices of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), led by Mrs Priscilla Ula, was in court to observe proceedings for the prosecution.
Meanwhile, the defendant, through his lawyer, Mr Edward Onoja, had filed an application for bail. The court however fixed for hearing the bail application on February 5, 2019, and subsequently adjourned the matter to March 13, 2019 for further mention.