Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Three months after she was sexually molested to her early grave, the chilling story of 13 year old student of Federal Government Girls College, Gboko in Benue State, Miss Ochanya Ogbanje drew cold tears out from the eyes of Abuja residence last week.
It was an emotional moment at the 2nd annual awards and lecture of the Daily Asset Newspaper in Abuja, where the late Ochanya was conferred with the paper’s posthumous award for the Young Person of the Year 2018.
Dignitaries at the event including a former Presidential aspirant, Prof. Iorwuese Hagher, Prof. Yima Sen amongst others could not hold back their years when her name was called for the posthumous award.O
Ochanya died in October last year, due to complications arising from the alleged sexual assaults the deceased suffered at the hands of her guardian, Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo and his son, Victor Ogbuja, a final year student at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
Since she was 8 years, both father (Andrew) and son (victor) started having sex with her until age 13, when she suddenly fell ill to a disease later diagnosed as Vesico-vaginal fistula (VVW).
Doctors confirmed that there had been forced penetration in both her private part and anus.
The lecturer was first charged to court for rape but granted bail before he was rearrested by the police when the victim died.
But his son, Victor, who joined in the abuse Ochanya, is said to be on the run and the police have mounted a manhunt for him.
Her death, has witnessed series of massive protests by various civil society groups calling for justice for the victim.
From Abuja to Lagos, Makurdi to Otukpo and Gboko in Benue State, the clamour was nothing but resounding.
speaking at the award presentation in Abuja, the deceased’s brother, Mr. John Ameh, renewed call for the swift prosecution of the alleged culprits.
Ameh appealed to the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Adamu Mohammed to take urgent steps to arrest the primary suspect in the matter, Victor Ogbuja, whom he said had been on the run since the news of Ochanya’s death broke.
He said Ochanya’s death had left the family heartbroken, due to the sordid circumstances that led to her untimely departure, urging the new police chief to direct the Benue State Police commissioner, Mr. Okon Ene to declare the suspect wanted.
“Needless to say that it has been a difficult time for us as a family since the tragic death of our beloved Ochanya in October last year. The circumstances surrounding her painful exit are already in the public domain, but for the sake of emphasis, Ochanya’s aggressors and killers, the paedophilic Andrew Ogbuja and his son, Victor, must be brought to justice. We appeal to the new IGP to declare Victor Ogbuja wanted for the rape and death of Ochanya.
“Our demand for justice is not borne out of vengeance, but the sheer desire to ensure that other girls within the community and Nigeria as a whole, are safe from the pandemic of sexual violence.
“On behalf of the family, I would like to thank the management and staff of Daily Asset Newspaper for this kind gesture. It is the first of its kind from a private organisation, in trying to raise awareness about the dangers of child sexual abuse, which has assumed epidemic proportions in the country,” Ameh said.
The chairman of the occasion and former presidential aspirant, Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher, called on government at all levels to invest in education.
In the same vein, the guest lecturer, Prof. Yima Sen, noted that the bedrock for meaningful development in any society is quality education from the primary to the tertiary levels.
In his welcome speech, Dr. Cletus Akwaya, publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Daily Asset Newspaper, said the awards and lecture series was the paper’s modest contribution to deepening public discourse on development in Nigeria, adding that the awardees had made meaningful impacts in their various spheres of life.
He opined that the posthumous award to the late Ochanya was meant to immortalise the deceased who has become a symbol of child sexual abuse in the country and to draw government’s attention to the evil.
Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson won the paper’s Governor of the Year Award, and was represented by his Commissioner for Information, Mr. Iworiso Markson.
Other awardees include: Speaker of the House of Representative, Hon. Yakubu Dogara as well as Jigawa, Benue and Akwa Ibom governors.