Even in death, late abused teenager Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje’s quest for justice hasn’t simmered down one bit as human rights activists thronged the Makurdi Chief Magistrate Court in their numbers on Thursday to follow up on the legal proceedings.
The absence of magistrate, however, mentioning of the case.
Although, several interest groups were present in court, they could not display their placards bearing different inscriptions when they learnt that the matter had been rescheduled for December 14.
At exactly 8:42am, the accused violator of Elizabeth, Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, had alighted from a Hiace bus of the Medium Security Prison Makurdi, moments after the vehicle halted in front of the court room.
Accompanied by a prison official, the accused walked into the court room while acknowledging greetings from some persons believed to be his relatives.
He was later joined by his lawyer and both men spoke in low tunes for some minutes, then the counsel approached his other colleagues - perhaps to agree on the new date, and shortly afterwards he was driven out of the premises.
Sequel to Thursday’s appearance in court, the wife of the accused, Felicia Ogbuja, was arrested by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) for culpable silence and complicity in the repeated sexual the presiding stalled further assault of her niece.
A NAPTIP official in Makurdi told our correspondent that Felicia was questioned by the agency and granted an administrative bail, adding that the woman was expected to show up whenever she was needed for further enquiry.
It was learnt that Mrs. Ogbuja is being held based on suspicion that she concealed knowledge of the nefarious act allegedly meted to the late teenager by her husband and son.
The woman, said to be working in the same Catering Department of the Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo as her husband, had evaded arrest for over a month after the tragedy occurred but the persistent manhunt for her by NAPTIP finally paid off last weekend when she was holed into the agency’s custody.
It would be recalled that late Elizabeth, a 13-year-old student of the Federal Government Girls’ College Gboko, died on Tuesday October 17 after suffering from Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and other health complications at a private hospital in Otukpo.
She allegedly suffered from sexual molestation for five years in the hands of her guardian, Andrew Ogbuja, and his son, Victor Ogbuja, an undergraduate.
Before her death, an Upper Area Court in Makurdi had on August 13, 2018 remanded the 51-year-old senior lecturer with the Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo in prison custody for alleged rape and persistent molestation of the teenager.
At the resumed sitting on the matter on September 24, the absence of the trial magistrate, due to ill-health, compelled the court to further adjourn to November 5, 2018.
Unfortunately, as the matter was still being contended in court, the victim reportedly died and ever since, there have been protests from different quarters demanding justice for the late girl.
Following wild condemnation and protests across the country, the accused lecturer was rearrested and re-arraigned.
The Presiding Magistrate, Issac Ajim, therefore remanded the accused at the Federal Prison Makurdi and adjourned the matter to November 29 for further mention.
Meanwhile on Thursday November 29, the court premises was filled with people from various interested organisations who came to hear the matter but the absence of the presiding magistrate said to be attending a conference outside the state stalled it.
A new date, December 14, was agreed upon by counsel to the matter.
At the moment, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has directed the chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Rev. Philip Tachin, to renovate and rename the primary school in Ochanya’s village as a mark of honour for her.
Mr and Mrs Ogbuja