A Benue state polytechnic lecturer, Andrew Ogbuja, has been acquitted of rape charges that allegedly led to the death of a 13-year-old schoolgirl, Ochanya Ogbanje in 2018.
The presiding judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman of the Benue State High Court acquitted Ogbuja on grounds of the prosecution failing to prove its four counts charges against him after evaluating two autopsy reports from the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi and the Nigeria Police Forensic Laboratory in Lagos.
According to Ityonyiman, the police failed to subject the lecturer to a medical examination in order to match his semen with the findings in the medical reports presented before the court. He noted that both autopsy reports were contradictory as the police’s said she suffered diseases that were related to sexual abuse while that of the Makurdi medical center said she died of natural cause.
In 2018, Andrew Ogbuja, and his son, Victor, who are both maternal relations of Ochanya, were accused of raping the deceased until she fell ill and died. Before her death, Ochanya narrated her ordeals at the hands of the Ogbujas in a video that was presented in court.
However, the judge stated that it was regrettable that the deceased could not tell her story before she died. He then acquitted and discharged the defendant of all the four counts charges.
In a separate development, the wife of the lecturer, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja, was convicted of negligence in the rape of the Ochanya.
The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons (NAPTIP), had accused her of failing to protect the deceased teenager from allegedly “being raped” by her husband and son, Victor, after her daughter, Winifred, drew (her attention ) to the sexual assault against Ochanya. She was also accused of making it impossible for NAPTIP to interrogate her daughter who was a key witness to the case.