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Family seek justice as 13-yr-old girl allegedly raped by lecturer and his son dies
Elizabeth Ogbanje, a 13-year-old pupil allegedly raped by a lecturer at the Department of Catering and Hotel Management, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, and his son, has died from health complications at the Otukpo General Hospital.
Elizabeth who is Junior Secondary School 1 pupil at the Federal Government College, Gboko, reportedly died on Wednesday. This is just as his father, Michael, urged the police and judiciary to ensure that the family gets justice by bringing the lecturer, Andrew Ogbuja and his son, Victor, to book.
The suspects reportedly defiled the victim for three years while she was living with them. She was a cousin of the lecturer’s wife.
The case was reported to the police and Andrew was arrested while Victor was at large.
The lecturer was subsequently arraigned before a Makurdi Upper Area Court in August 2018 and was remanded in prison custody.
The First Information Report presented to the court by the police and obtained by our correspondent indicated that the alleged defilement was reported by the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Benue State chapter.
The FIR read in part, “One Mrs Rose Abah reported at FIDA office, Benue State chapter, Makurdi, that sometime in February 2018, when her daughter, one Elizabeth Ogbanje, 13, was sick and admitted to the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi. She (Elizabeth) told her that when she was staying with her aunt, Felicia Ogbuja of Ugbokolo town in 2013 to 2015, the son of the said aunt, Victor Andrew of the same address had canal knowledge of her on different occasions.
“She further stated that the husband of her aunt, Andrew Ogbuja, had canal knowledge of her without her consent between 2013 and 2015, which was the cause of her sickness. During police investigation, the said Andrew Ogbuja, 51 years old, was arrested for committing the offence while the said Victor Ogbuja is at large, contrary to sections 97 and 284 of the Penal Code Law of Benue State, 2004.”
The father of the victim, Michael, told our correspondent on Friday that she died at the Otukpo General Hospital, on Wednesday from sickness adding that the result of an autopsy carried out on her body was being awaited.
He expressed shock that the lecturer was allegedly released from the prison even though he was not granted bail by the court, calling for justice on the case.
Michael explained that the family decided that Elizabeth should relocate to Ugbokolo town from the village when she was five years old so she could have access to standard formal education.
He said, “My daughter died on Wednesday at the Otukpo General Hospital. Her corpse has been brought to Makurdi for autopsy. We are awaiting the autopsy report. She was admitted to the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi in February 2018 when she could not walk due to anal-related infections. She was bedridden for two months at the hospital. They ran a test on her and it was discovered that she had been sexually abused.
“The lecturer was remanded but we did not know how he left the prison. The police prosecutor said he was not aware of the bail. At the last adjournment, September 24, 2018 when we wanted to inform the court about the development, it did not sit. His son is still at large, but the police said they were making efforts to arrest him.
“What the family wants is justice. We are calling on the Commissioner of Police in the state, the state government and well-meaning Nigerians to do everything within their powers to bring perpetrators of this despicable act to justice That is the only way we can bring closure to the case and give the late Elizabeth her well-deserved rest. We have reported her death to the police.”
When newsmen contacted the lecturer on the telephone, he said he was granted bail by the court.
He said, “Please I have no comment. We have a court case. We will meet in court to say everything. I was given a bail by the court, so I have no comment.”
The Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Moses Yamu, said the command was on the trail of Victor, noting that the police had no hand in the lecturer’s release.
He said, “The case was charged to court. It was not the police that released him. We have done our work. We conducted investigation and charged him to court. For whatever reason, whether he was granted bail by the court or prison, is not the police’s business.
“The FIR mentioned the name of the boy (Victor) as well. Any time we get hold of him, he will face the music.”