Senior lecturer with Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo Andrew Ogbuja has been arraigned before a state High Court in Makurdi for allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl, Ochanya Ogbanje, to death.
Ogbuja’s arraignment came nearly a year after Ochanya’s death on October 17, 2018 from complications said to have resulted from her prolonged rape by him and his son, Victor, who is now at large.
The accused who was arraigned before Justice Augustine Ityonyiman of the State High Court 9, however pleaded not guilty when the four-count charge bordering on rape and murder was read to him.
The prosecuting lawyer, Mr. P. M. Ukande, Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, Benue State Ministry of Justice, consequently prayed the court to remand the accused and fix a date for proper trial having plead not guilty to all the charges preferred against him.
Counsel to the accused, Mr. Abel Onoja, did not oppose the application for trial and therefore urged the court to make an order to compel the prosecution to ensure that medical experts named in the suit are physically brought before the court to testify during commencement of full trial.
“My Lord, I have a motion which seeks to compel the prosecution to produce medical experts who have been mentioned in the proof of evidence to be put on notice as to their physical appearance in court, so that they can testify when the trial commences,” Onoja pleaded.
The prosecuting counsel vehemently opposed the application brought before the judge saying “it was wrong and premature for the defence counsel to come up with such application hence full trial was yet to commenced.”
The trial judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman, while agreeing with the prosecution, overruled the defendant’s application, saying that “it is premature.”
Subsequently, the court adjourned the suit to November 14, 2019, for commencement of trial.
Some of the charges read as follows: “That you, Andrew Ogbuja, male and one Victor Ogbuja, your son who is now at large between 2013 and 2015 at your residence in Ugbokolo town, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court agreed to do illegal acts, to wit: severally rape one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje from the age 7 to 13 years when she was placed under your care and same acts were done pursuant to the said agreement and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 97 of the Penal Code, CAP. 124 Laws of Benue State, 2004.
“That you, Andrew Ogbuja, male and one Victor Ogbuja, your son who is now at large between 2013 and 2015 at your residence in Ugbokolo town, Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court intentionally caused the death of one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje, a minor, aged 13 years placed under your care and lived with your family in that between 2013 and 2015 when she was between 7-13 years old, you raped the said Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje severally as a result of which she died in October, 2017 of sexual abuse related disease and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 222 of the Penal Code CAP. 124 Laws of Benue State, 2004,” among other counts.