By Christian Appolos
Two years after the death of a 13-year-old girl, Ochanya Ogbanje in Benue State, Civil Society Organisations and the family of deceased rape victim, have given a two-week ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to arrest one of the fleeing suspects, Victor Ogbuja.
According to court records, Ochanya died on October 17, 2018 as a result of health complications arising from several years of rape in the hands of Victor Ogbuja and his father, Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, a senior lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo.
Speaking at a joint press conference with members of the Federal Government Girls College Gboko Old Girls Association and Make a Difference Initiative (MAD) as well as the Wanda Adu Foundation on Monday in Abuja, the elder brother to deceased teenager, Mr. Ameh Ejekwonyilo, lamented the alleged refusal of the IGP to launch a national manhunt for the young Ogbuja with a view to bringing the fugitive to justice.
Ameh noted that while the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP) and the Benue State Government had made tremendous progress in prosecuting Mr Ogbuja and his wife, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja for their alleged roles in the rape and death of Ochanya, he wondered why the police have neglected its constitutional duty in arresting and prosecuting Victor Ogbuja.
The CSOs based their ultimatum to the IGP on a Legal Advice from the Benue State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, which directed the police to make “efforts to arrest Victor Ogbuja who is still at large, for justice to take its course.”
A copy of the legal advice marked: MOJ/LEG/3DR/39/100 and dated January 10, 2019, which was sighted by our correspondent read in part: “Arising from the health condition of the deceased (Ochanya Ogbanje) due to multiple rape and sexual abuse resulting to grievous injuries confirmed by Medical Reports, it is our legal opinion that a case of criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide punishable with death under Sections 97 and 222 of the Penal Code Revised Edition (Laws of Benue State) 2004 has been made out against the above named (Andrew Ogbuja) and he shall be prosecuted accordingly.
“Efforts should be made to arrest Victor Ogbuja who is still at large, for justice to take its course.”
Ameh accused the police of shielding the alleged rapist and murderer from prosecution.
“Two years after the death of Ochanya as a result of health complications arising from her being serially raped by the suspected rapists, the Nigeria Police Force are still incapable of arresting and bringing to justice one of the principal suspects, Victor Ogbuja, in this heinous crime.
“We have come to realise that the seeming failure to arrest Victor Ogbuja smacks of high level of complicity by not only the Benue State Police Command but also may have the blessing of the Inspector General of Police.
“We are now of the view that it is simply and squarely a question of neglect, if not outright refusal by the police to arrest and bring Victor Ogbuja before justice over the rape and death of Ochanya Ogbanje.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we hereby put the IGP on notice that in the event that he fails to declare Victor Ogbuja wanted for the egregious crimes that have been linked to him in the aforementioned Legal Advice, we as a family, the FGGC Gboko Old Girls’ Association and other civil society organisations will have no choice but to storm the police Force Headquarters at Louis Edet House in Abuja to register our displeasure over the continued refusal to arrest and bring the fugitive to justice,” Ameh said.
In a welcome address, a representative of the FGGC Gboko Old Girls Association, Dr. Ngozi Akpala, regretted that two years down the line, justice was still elusive to the late Ochanya, urging the police authorities to arrest and bring Victor Ogbuja to book.
In his remarks, the Executive Director, MAD, Mr. Lemmy Ughegbe, said the endemic proportions of SGBV should compel the police to act in apprehending Victor Ogbuja.
Similarly, founder of Wanda Adu Foundation, Wanda Abe, decried the prevalence of sexual and gender violence in the country, urging the IGP to declare Victor Ogbuja wanted and bring him to justice.