It is commendable that some weeks after her painful death, many Nigerians are demanding for justice for Miss Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje, the 13-year-old girl allegedly raped to death by her guardian, Andrew Ogbuja, a Knight of the Catholic Church and his son, Victor.
The sexual abuse of the deceased, which led to her untimely death, is reprehensible. Ochanya was living with her family at Ogene-Amejo, a village in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State, until 2013 when her quest for education necessitated her relocation to Ugbokolo where she lived with her mother’s sister. Unfortunately, she was subjected to a life of misery and trauma. Her ordeal began shortly after her arrival in her new home, as Victor allegedly started abusing her sexually. The disgusting deed was discovered by Victor’s sister who promptly reported the matter to her dad, Andrew, a lecturer in the Department of Catering and Hotel Management, Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo.
But the 52-year-old Knight soon after joined his son in the sexual brutalisation of their ward. They took turns to rape and sodomise the poor girl. To ensure compliance from the girl, the duo allegedly fed Ochanya with drugs and threatened her with death if she should reveal the sexual ordeal. For years, Ochanya was sexually abused by the duo to the extent that the JSS 2 pupil of Federal Government Girls’ College, Gboko, got afflicted with Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF). On October 18, after years of living with physical and psychological trauma, the girl died.
Ochanya’s death is reprehensible and has continued to elicit shock and global outrage. Indeed, the disdain for decency displayed by the Ogbujas should not be tolerated in any society.
Many Nigerians, especially women, protested against her sexual torture and eventual death. It is also gratifying to note that several groups are demanding justice for the deceased and condign punishment to those responsible for her death. It is also good that the Knight, who was suspended by his church, is facing trial in court. Ogbuja’s son, who reportedly ran away, should also be apprehended and brought to justice. We decry the rise in the number of rape cases in the country and urge the authorities to stem the tide.
We also condemn the sexual abuse of minors, especially young girls as well as the rising cases of incest. It is sad that toddlers, as young as two years, are violated by randy men. And in most cases, the perpetrators of the iniquitous deeds are never arrested and tried.
In fact, there is the need for new laws with stiffer sanctions against rape. Indeed, any law that merely prescribes a few years in jail for rape should be reviewed.
In China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran, convicted rapists are sentenced to death or castrated. In India, United States and in many parts of Europe, such degenerates could spend the rest of their lives in jail. The National Assembly should strengthen the laws against sexual assault in Nigeria.
The law enforcement agents should change their attitude towards rape victims and handle rape cases with utmost concern. While we strongly condemn the despicable sexual torture and murder of Ochanya Ogbanje, we also commend the individuals and groups that rose against the criminal act and urge the state and federal authorities to ensure that those involved in the evil act are brought to justice.
Bringing them to justice will deter others from toeing the path of infamy in future. Government must ensure that laws that protect children are fully enforced throughout the country. All cases of child abuse must be reported to law enforcement agents and those involved should be arrested and tried.