The Benue State Government has arraigned Mr Andrew Ogbuja, a senior lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, who was alleged to have raped to death 13-year-old girl, Ochanya Ogbanje.
Mr Ogbuja, 54, was arraigned on Thursday, nearly one year after Ochanya’s death from complications said to have resulted from her prolonged rape by the suspect and his son, Victor.
Ochanya died on October 17, 2018.
On the other hand, Victor who is the suspect in the case is now at large and is yet to be arrested or declared wanted.
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During proceedings at the Benue State High Court in Makurdi, four charges bordering on rape and murder were read to Ogbuja and he pleaded not guilty.
Following his not guilty plea, the prosecuting lawyer and deputy director of the Benue State Public Prosecution, Mr P Ukande, urged the court to remand the defendant and fix a date for trial.
The defence lawyer, Mr Abel Onoja, said he was not against the application for trial.
He, however, prayed the court to make an order to compel the prosecution to ensure that the medical experts named in the suit were physically brought before the court to testify.
“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 said.
In his response, the prosecuting counsel said it was “premature to come up with such a request, given the fact that the trial has not fully commenced.”
The trial judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman, agreed with the prosecution and overruled the defendant’s application, saying “it is premature.”
The court then adjourned the case until November 14 for the commencement of trial.
Court one of the charge read, “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.”
Count Four also read, “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.”