The family of late Ochanya Ogbanje who died after years of sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated by suspended Benue State lecturer, Andrew Ogbuja and his son, Victor, have accused the suspects of threatening their lives.
The allegation was made Wednesday at a press conference organised by members of the late victim’s family and alumni association of the Federal Government Girls’ College, Gboko, Benue State.
Speaking at the conference, Ms Ogbanje’s elder brother, John Ameh, said a sibling of Mr Ogbuja’s wife, Inalegwu Ochiga, who is a prison officer, had threatened to kill him during a previous hearing of the matter at the court premises.
“Another worrying dimension to the trial of Mr Ogbuja is the consistent threats, bullying and harassment of my family, which had been on even before the case came into public consciousness.
“The most recent of such sad incidents occurred on April 09, 2019, when one of the younger siblings of the accused’s wife, Mr Inalegwu Frederick Ochiga, who is also a staff of the Nigeria Prisons Service serving at the Benue State Command openly assaulted me, at the premises of the Federal High Court in Makurdi, Benue State on the day Mrs Ogbuja was arraigned on charges bordering on negligence and complicity in the sordid saga of Ochanya’s rape and tragic death.
“At the court, Ochiga not only verbally assaulted me, he equally threatened to kill me if I continued with my championing the cause that justice be served in Ochanya’s case.
“Though the matter was immediately reported and a written statement submitted at the office of the Police Commissioner, Benue State Police Command on April 09, 2019, no action has been taken on the matter, as I speak.
“Consequently, I wrote a petition through my lawyer to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, bringing my plight to his knowledge. In the petition dated June 27, 2019, I drew the attention of the nation’s police chief to the clear and present danger from the suspects’ family members and associates over our quest to have justice served over Ochanya’s death: my life and that of my parents as well as siblings are under threat.”
Mr Ochiga did not immediately respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments.
Mr Ameh also said several of such threats had been made by the Ogbuja’s as well as friends and associates of his wife, Felicia, whom he alleged to have close ties with politicians.
He also asked the Benue State government to intensify efforts toward ensuring that the young Ogbuja, who has been missing since the incident became public in July 2018, is apprehended by the police.
“Nearly a year since Ochanya’s case came to the attention of the police in August or her death in October, which transformed her story from a small story to a national and global saga, the Nigeria Police Force have been unable to locate and arrest the second suspect, Victor Ogbuja.
“It is worrisome that the younger Ogbuja seemed to have disappeared into thin air, it is even more disheartening that the police authorities have been lethargic in seeking to legally declare Victor Ogbuja wanted and put him on both national and international watch list of suspected criminals.”
Also speaking at the event, a leader of the alumni association, Tonia Edi-Lawani, called on the Benue State government, the media and the general public to continue the fight for justice, and ensure that Ms Ogbanje’s death was not in vain.
“We once again use this medium to encourage everyone who has a role to play in ensuring that justice is served, to please ensure that Ochanya gets justice.
Ms Edi-Lawani said the alumni association began a public awareness campaign tagged: “speak up campaign,” in memory of Ms Ogbanje, to help victims tell their stories and help them out of such miseries.
The late Ms Ogbanje, who died at age 13 in October 2018, suffered years of sexual abuse and molestation while living as a ward under the care of Mr Ogbuja and his wife, who is a second cousin to Ochanya’s mother.
She was diagnosed with Vesicovaginal fistula, VVF, infection among other diseases, resulting from the years of sexual abuse and torture while she lived with the Ogbuja’s.
Before her death, she spoke about the years of torture and sexual abuses in court, where she pointed accusing fingers at Mr Ogbuja and his fugitive son, Victor.
Although Mr Ogbuja and his wife Felicia are facing separate trials in the matter, the young Ogbuja has since gone into hiding with the police failing to apprehend him, one year after the incident.