Fred Itua, Abuja
The family of the 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje who was allegedly raped to death by Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo and his son, Victor, has cried to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Adamu Mohammed, over alleged threats to their lives. They’re also complaining of intimidation of witnesses in the trial of the suspects.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Mr. Ameh Ejekwonyilo, the eldest brother to the deceased girl, disclosed that he had received death threats from family members and political associates of the Ogbuja family.
According to Ameh, the lives of his parents and siblings, as well as witnesses, are under threat.
Addressing journalists at the joint press conference with the Federal Government Girls College, Gboko Old Girls’ Association in Abuja, he disclosed that a younger sibling to the suspects’ wife, one (names withheld), assaulted him at the premises of the Federal High Court in Makurdi, where he had gone to witness proceedings in the trial of Mrs. Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja in April this year.
He called on the nation’s police chief to investigate a petition he had written to the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja with respect to the threats with a view to providing security for the deceased girl’s family and witnesses during the pendency of the suit.
Ameh equally appealed to the United Nations, the US government and other international agencies and embassies in Nigeria to come to their aid with a view to getting justice served in the tragic death of his kid sister.
In the same vein, the deceased girl’s family wondered why the police were yet to arrest and prosecute Victor Ogbuja, the second suspect in the matter, even after nearly a year since Ochanya’s tragic death.
Ochanya died on October 17th, 2018, after battling complications arising from the prolonged sexual assaults she suffered at the hands of the Ogbujas for several years while living with them.
The statement reads in part: “I had in the past told the world about attempts to harass and intimidate my family as well as witnesses, by the family members of the Ogbujas and their in-laws, who claim to have very close ties with Senator Abba Moro, who is believed to be very powerful in view of the fact that he was a Minister of Interior, and a serving senator representing Benue South (Zone C) at the 9th Senate.
“While we have reluctantly believed Senator Moro’s denial at the inception of the case that he was not supportive of Ochanya’s alleged rapists or behind clandestine moves to kill the case through pleas from one of his aides, who is a relation to Mrs. Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (the suspects’ wife and mother, who is also a suspect in the sister’s case being handled by NAPTIP), recent revelations have, however, indicated to the contrary.
“Senator Moro’s denial was widely reported in the print, broadcast and social media last year when he stated in Ochanya’s village where he went to condole with our family, that his name was either being dropped or merely being maligned by his traducers. He reportedly warned all his aides to keep clear of the case.
“However, the recent harassment of one of the family members of the late Ochanya who is a key witness in the matter by political associates of the Ogbuja and Ochiga families is disturbing, to say the least.
“By the calculation of the suspects’ family and political associates, if witnesses fail to attend court proceedings, the suit would be struck out by the trial judge for want of diligent prosecution.
“I wish to put it on record that until this threat to my life is investigated and necessary measures are taken to assure and guarantee my safety, my life is in the hands of not only Mr. Inalegwu Ochiga but also the responsibility of the entire Ochiga and Ogbuja families.”
Ameh called on the IGP to immediately declare Victor Ogbuja wanted and launch a manhunt within and outside Nigeria for his arrest and prosecution. He reiterated the family’s commitment to getting justice for the late Ochanya.
Speaking in the same vein, Mr. Lemmy Ughegbe, Executive Director of Make A Difference (MAD) Initiative, a non-governmental organisation that has been in the vanguard of fight against child sexual abuse, called for stiffer penalties for paedophiles.