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Weekly Trust - - News - Hope Abah Em­manuel, Makurdi

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

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