From Austine Tule, Makurdi
A senior lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, has been remanded in prison custody for allegedly defiling a 13-year-old girl placed under his guardianship.
Ogbuja was arraigned on Tuesday before the Upper Area Court in Makurdi, the state capital.
In the First Information Report (FIR) filed before the Magistrate, Mr. S. D Kwen, the accused person is on trial for “criminal conspiracy and rape,” which he allegedly carried out with his son, Victor Andrew Ogbuja, who is now at large.
Ogbuja, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Catering and Hotel Management in the polytechnic, upon the reading of the charges to him, pleaded not guilty of them.
After admitting that the victim had been living with him since the age of five, he told the court that he was being framed up.
He said: “I’m most surprised for being here. I was detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) from where I was brought to court today (yesterday).
“It is completely an arranged allegation against me. I know nothing about the charges,” Ogbuja said.
But, the magistrate who declined jurisdiction in the matter wondered why a man of the accused’s standing would be framed up if he had nothing to do with the alleged crime.
Kwen said: “I don’t know how an allegation of this magnitude would be made against a man of this standing without him been involved in its commission.”
At the proceedings, Mr. Ogbuja’s lawyer, Mr. David Ojile, urged the court to admit his client to bail.
He argued that there was no direct link between the alleged crime and his client.
In another breathe, he told the court that his client was already in talks with the victim’s parents for an amicable out-of-court settlement.
“Your Lordship, considering the nature of the offence, it’s a serious one. But the allegation against the defendant is an after-thought.
“We want the court to temper justice with mercy and admit the accused to bail so that he can assist the police in their investigation of the matter.
“There is no nexus connecting the accused to the commission of the crime. Considering the status of the accused person as a lecturer, he should be released on bail.
“In addition, there is an ongoing effort from my client for an out-of-court settlement, so that he can foot the medical bills of the girl,” he pleaded.
The police prosecutor, Mr. Patrick Sunday, told the court that preliminary their preliminary investigation, Ogbuja admitted that his fleeing son had sexual intercourse with the victim.
He said: “Ogbuja owned up that his son had canal knowledge of the girl. Investigation is still ongoing, and we are yet to arrest the son of the accused person. We leave it at the court’s discretion to decide whether the accused would be granted bail or not,” Sunday said.
The victim told the court that Ogbuja and his son raped her several times.
When asked to narrate her ordeal by the court, she said the accused had been raping her, which led to her been bedridden for several months.
The caregiver, Evangelist Enuwa Soo, who is currently handling the victim’s rehabilitation, said that a medical report by the Benue State University Teaching Hospital revealed that the victim’s hymen had been broken.
She added that due to a prolonged sexual molestation, she had developed Vesisco Vaginal Fistula (VVF), an ailment that makes the victim to frequently urinate and defecate without control.
In a bench ruling, the magistrate reminded the defence lawyer that bail was not granted on this kind of “serious” offence. He advised him (the defendant’s lawyer) to file a formal application for bail before the court.
Consequently, he remanded the defendant at the Nigeria Prisons in Makurdi and adjourned the suit till September 24, 2018, for further hearing.