The Federal High Court in Makurdi has remanded, Mrs Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja, the wife of the lecturer accused of raping Ochanya Ogbanje in Benue State.
The trial judge, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon, remanded Mrs Ogbuja at the Makurdi Prison for negligence over the alleged rape and death of the 13-year-old victim by her husband and son, Mr Andrew Ogbuja and Victor Ogbuja.
Ochanya died in October 2018 due to complications arising from the alleged sexual molestation she suffered at the hands of Ogbuja and his son.
Mr Ogbuja is a senior lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, while Victor, who is at large, is a final year student at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.
Mrs Ogbuja was arraigned by the Federal Government through the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on two counts.
Count one read, “That you, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (Female) 43 years of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State, sometime between 2014 and 2018, in Ugbokolo, Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did omit to take action against the sexual exploitation of one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje (Female) 13 years by your husband, Andrew Ogbuja and your son, Victor Ogbuja, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 13 (4) (b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.”
The second count also read, “That you, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (Female) 43 years of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State, sometime between 2014 and 2018, in Ugbokolo, Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did keep, detain or harbour one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje (Female) 13 years, knowing that she is likely to be sexually exploited by your husband, Andrew Ogbuja and your son, Victor Ogbuja, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 15 (b) of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.”
Mrs Ogbuja, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges after they were read to her.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr Swanta Bossan, urged the court to remand her in prison pending the commencement of her trial.
But the defence counsel, Mr David Ojile, prayed the court to admit his client to bail.
He argued that the offences for which she was being tried were bailable and drew the court’s attention to his client’s bail application dated and filed on April 5, 2019.
After listening to the submissions of counsel in the suit, Justice Olajuwon remanded Mrs Ogbuja in prison custody pending when she meets her N6 million bail bond.
She said, “The defendant is admitted to bail in the sum of N2 million with sureties in like sum. The sureties must be civil servants not less than grade-level 12.
“They must own properties within the jurisdiction of this court. The sureties must submit letters of introduction from their Head of Department to the Court Registrar.”
The judge also ordered the sureties to submit the Certificates of Occupancy of their properties, which must be verified by the Court Registrar.
She, thereafter, adjourned the case till May 10 for trial.
The news of Ochanya’s death in October 2018 sparked widespread outrage and demonstrations across the country, with calls from human rights activists for the arrest and prosecution of Mr Ogbuja and his son.
Although Mr Ogbuja has been remanded at the Makurdi prison, Victor is reportedly still at large.