The father of the late teenager, Ochanya, has narrated how he discovered that his teenage daughter had been repeatedly raped by her guardian.
Ochanya Ogbanje, 13, died of Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) in October, eight years after she was in 2010 taken to live with Andrew Ogbuja whose wife, Felicia Ogbuja, is an aunt to the deceased. Her death followed a series of rape allegedly perpetrated by Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor.
Narrating the sad events that resulted in his daughter’s death in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Ochanya’s father, Michael Ogbanje, said he only got the clear picture of his daughter’s type of infection, after he decided against the plan of Mrs Ogbuja, and brought his daughter to a caregiver who took her for medical tests for the umpteenth time.
“We started the treatment at a local government clinic. From there, we were referred to Saint Mary’s hospital. In February, Mr Ogbuja’s wife, Felicia Ogbuja, came to me and told me that my daughter’s case had gone beyond what will be treated at Saint Mary’s.
“I gave them money, N16,000 and fuelled their car which was used in taking my daughter to the hospital that day. They were admitted till April. The entire hospital bills were paid by me. Yet Mrs Ogbuja made sure to keep the test results from us.
“We have been the ones paying her school fees. We even buy things and take to her occasionally,” Mr Ogbanje added.
The victim’s mother, Rose, who went with their daughter to the hospital, added that she made several demands for the details of the problem, but her requests were never granted.
“Each time I ask, they will tell me that my daughter will be well. Even when they discharged her, my daughter could not walk. When I enquired to know why she could not walk since they said she was better, they told me she would soon walk again,” the aged woman added, in pidgin English.
But days ran into weeks and nothing changed. Mr Ogbanje said he later asked his wife to question the girl when they noticed that she was passing out faeces and urinating uncontrollably.
“It was during that interrogation by her mother that my daughter confessed that she was sexually abused by Mr Ogbuja and his son.”
Mr Ogbanje’s immediate reaction was that of utter dismay and confusion, to the point of assuming his daughter was going mad.
“I was surprised when she told me who had raped her. I asked her, “are you mad?” but she insisted that she was telling the truth.
“I called her elder one and asked her to repeat what she had told me and she did so. Then the following day I took her, very early to Mr Ogbujah and asked that she narrates the story she had told us.”
Mr Ogbanje added that when Mr Ogbuja denied assaulting his daughter, the 13-year-old girl stated the places and the times when she was allegedly assaulted by the 51-year-old suspended lecturer and knight of the Catholic Church.
“But he insisted that only his son had an intimate meeting with my daughter. I then asked him what would happen next, given the state that my poor daughter was in and his wife told me that we should come back the following week so that they would go with us to the hospital and check to know if it is the incidence of rape that resulted in the problem my child is having.
“This happened on a Monday. But I thought to myself that I could not watch my daughter for another week without knowing how to help her. That was when I took Ochanya to the caregiver, Enuwa Soo, who went with my wife to run some tests at a hospital and all the results came out. That was the first time we knew what was really wrong with my daughter,” Mr Ogbanje said. “This was in June,” he added.
Mr Ogbanje further narrated that Mr Ogbuja later came with his wife, kneeling and begging them to avoid reporting the matter to relevant authorities.
“The first time he came, he was in the company of his wife and some men. They brought some kolanuts and knelt down, saying I should understand that the deed is already done. They offered to continue treating my daughter and refund the money I had spent on her treatment in exchange for my silence, but I refused,” Mr Ogbanje said.
Mrs Ogbuja was reportedly the first to discover the heinous crime perpetrated then, by her son, Victor. Rather than ensure it did not repeat itself, the Ogbuja’s family watched the menace continue till it caused the13-year-old her dear life, Mr Ogbanje said.
The death of Ochanya has attracted widespread condemnation, with many demanding a thorough prosecution of Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor.
While Mr Ogbuja has been arrested and detained by the police, Victor is still at large months after the matter was reported to the police.
The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, did not respond to calls and text messages when contacted about an update on the whereabouts of Victor by this newspaper on Thursday evening.
The Catholic Church, in a statement issued in November by members of the Knight of Saint Molumba, suspended Mr Ogbuja from the order of Catholic Knights, pending the outcome of the matter.