By Joseph Wantu
Makurdi — Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has expressed grief over Miss Ochanya Ogbanje, who died from sexual abuse against her. A polytechnic lecturer, Andrew Ogbuja, and his son, Victor, had allegedly sexually abused the victim for five years. Ortom expressed the anguish yesterday in Makurdi when about 10 groups protested against the crime at the Government House, Makurdi. Represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr. Terwase Orbunde, the governor directed the Ministry of Justice to take over the prosecution of the suspects.
“I feel pained because I have daughters. What if it were my daughters? The law must take its cause on this matter,” he said. He lamented that the suspects cut the life of the girl short in her prime, and stressed that such a dastardly act must be condemned in its entirety.
The protesters, who wore black T-shirts, carried placards with various inscriptions as: “We are all Ochanya, we must speak for Ochanya, it could happen to anybody,” “Justice for Ochanya,” “1000 citizens march against rape and sexual molestation of children.”
The human rights groups had yesterday protested again in Makurdi, Benue State capital, over the death of Ochanya Obaje, a 13-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped by a lecturer of Benue State Polytechnic, Andrew Ogbuja, and his son, Victor. A similar protest held last Thursday in Abuja.
Mr. James Ogbeche, who spoke on behalf of concerned citizens, urged justice for Ogbanje to be given topmost priority. “The horror they experience is unacceptable to every girl, woman, mother, parent. Every one of us who doesn’t fight back gives the abusers another chance and creates more victims! It isn’t their fault. Life has just been unfair to them! Nobody has the right to abuse a child! But we all have the right to stand up for them. Until Ochanya gets the required justice, the walk (protest) continues,” he said.
The victim, who was a Junior Secondary School 1 student at the Federal Government College, Gboko, Benue State died of Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) and other health complications after being allegedly abused by the duo on several occasions for about five years, while she lived with them.
While the lecturer was arrested by the police, arraigned before a Makurdi Upper Area Court in August 2018 and remanded in prison, his son fled.Also yesterday, a child rights foundation, Blue Baby Support Initiative, led other right activists to demand justice for the late Ochanya. The protest took place at Benue State University and its environs. Aisha Ogieriakhi, founder of Blue Baby Support Initiative, told newsmen why the protest held.
“What did this child do to suffer a fate like this? Ochanya, they killed her innocence and her body. And for all the perpetrators, calamity will come upon them suddenly. They (such victims) are violated, molested and sexually abused. They suffer from depression and other psychological problems, which scars them for the rest of their lives. They are deprived of a normal childhood and are filled with fear, anxiety and pain. Some die in the process like Ochanya! Let’s lend them a voice, let them know they have the power to speak up now!
Meanwhile, president, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Gideon Omale, has called for a review of the justice system to allow quick dispensation of cases. Omale further charged that rape cases should be given accelerated hearing, while pledging to ensure that Ogbanje gets justice even in death.The NANS president appealed to the Benue State government to immediately sack Ogbuja, and not wait until the case is finally determined in the court.