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Protesters call for arrest of father, son in sexual abuse, death of girl

PROTESTERS on Thursday gathered at the Ministry of Justice headquarters in Abuja to express their grievance over the death of Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje, a 13-year-old girl allegedly raped by a father and son in Gboko, Benue State.

The protesters comprising a coalition of civil society groups, human rights activists and students, called on the minister of justice and attorney general of the federation to fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crime and bring them to book.

They blocked the main entrance into the ministry, carrying placards that call for justice for the late Ochanya.

Emmanuel Omonoho, director of litigation, who addressed the protesters, said the ministry would swing into action when the police conclude their investigations.

“The Minister of Justice is on assignment and is not in the office now. I want to assure you of one thing, if this incident took place in any state, let it be investigated and let the report of the investigation be made to the commissioner of police of the state.”

“I assure you on behalf of the attorney-general that once the report gets to the ministry of justice the matter must be prosecuted to a logical conclusion,” he said.

The protesters later proceeded to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) headquarters.

Before her death last week Wednesday at Benue State Teaching Hospital, Makurdi, the victim was a Junior Secondary School 1 student at the Federal Government College, Gboko, Benue State.

The girl, a cousin of the lecturer’s wife, was allegedly sexually abused by the suspects for about five years, while she lived with them, according to media reports.

Andrew Ogbuja, a staff at Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, and his son, Victor Inalegwu Ogbuja, a final-year student at the Federal University of Agriculture are said to have serially abused the 13-year-old Ochanya Ochiga since she joined their household at age eight.

While Mr Ogbuja was arrested by the police, arraigned before a Makurdi Upper Area Court in August and remanded in prison custody, his son had fled.

The rape victim died of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and other health complications after being allegedly abused by the duo on several occasions.

Mrs Betty Abah, a co-convener of the protest, who is also the executive director of CEE-HOPE, a non-governmental organization advocating for the rights, welfare and development of vulnerable kids and girls in the country, called for the protest in a Facebook post on October 21.

She hoped the protest will push the government to provide answers and punish the perpetrators accordingly.

“As at the last hearing on Sept. 24, the accused was not in court. He had been released from prison without the knowledge of the victim’s family, even when he wasn’t granted bail at the earlier sitting. His co-accused son, Victor Ogbuja, a student at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, remains on the run,”. Abah said in the post.

She was concerned that the accused was released from prison custody without being granted bail by the court without and without the knowledge girl’s family.

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