•Vivian, 14, murdered by robbers for resisting being defiled, remembered 10 years after
•Church builds monument at site of death
By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu
10 years ago, tragedy struck the family of Vivian Ogu, 14, who was killed by armed robbers who attacked her and her elder sister, and took her to a nearby bush to be raped but she resisted and paid with her life.
Today, Vivian, from Umuelem, Eniogugu, Aboh in Imbiase local government area of Imo State, has become a hero to Catholics as she is likened to St Maria Gorreti, the young Italian virgin martyr of the Roman Catholic Church who is one of the youngest canonized saints said to have died from multiple stab wounds inflicted on her by her a rapist after she refused to submit to him.
By coincidence, Vivian was said to have on that November 15, 2009 morning, in a Bible study, talked about St Maria Gorreti and admonished her study mates to emulate Gorreti and never succumb to any form of immorality.
The 14-year-old was said to have preferred to keep her dignity by losing her life, rather than being defiled in the bush near her family home in Evboriaria, off Sapele Road Benin-City that fateful day.
Born on July 1, 1995 into the family of Mr and Mrs Peter Ogu, devout Catholics, Vivian was a student of Greater Tomorrow Secondary School, Benin-City where she was assistant prayer leader and member of several prayer groups in the church.
She was also said to be a member of Joy Class, a teen Bible class, and Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and pioneer President of the Holy Childhood Association of St. Paul Catholic Church, Airport Road, Benin-City. Many of her close friends in the Joy Class described her as a light to other members, who always helped other children through advice and shared experiences.
Vivian, according to the friends, spoke on the exemplary and heroic life of St. Maria Goretti on that fateful day and was said to have told the group of young girls in the group about the values of chastity.
She described a woman’s worth and pride as being able to hold her virginity until marriage.
Sunday, November 15, 2009 began like every other day.
As was her regular schedule, the teenager was said to have attended Holy Mass, followed by the Bible study.
Later in the day, she visited the hair salon to make her hair for the week and, in the evening, Vivian attended the confirmation class in the church.
Tragedy however struck in the night.
While many Nigerians stayed glued to their television sets watching the football match between Nigeria and Switzerland, a three-man robbery gang reportedly invaded their home, dispossessed everyone of valuables, injuring some in the process and forcefully taking Vivian and her elder sister to the bush close by.
The mission of the men of the underworld was not to abduct her but to have carnal knowledge of the child who was said to be a crusader for morality.
As she refused the threat and demand of the bandits to abuse her sexually, the trigger happy hoodlums pumped hot bullets into her stomach and fled.
Vivian died before help could come.
Responding to a request by the Catholic Church, Edo State government donated the land where she met her cruel fate to the church to build a structure in memory of the girl.
The structure is expected to be completed in October.
In addition, Vivian was recognised by Pope Francis on account of her heroic death.
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki has hailed the exemplary moral virtue upheld by the girl.
Addressing a delegation from the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin which paid a visit to the Government House, Benin-City, Obaseki said his administration would not give up on its drive to restore good morals in the state.
“We are on a mission to rebuild our society and the foundation for rebuilding the society starts from ethics and morality. It is not enough to talk about how society should be like. We want to see people who have walked the talk”, the governor said.
He noted that Vivian stood and died for what she believed, adding that he preferred his administration to be judged on account of its actions.
The governor promised to assist the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin with funding on some of the structures at the Vivian Ogu Centre Benin City which would serve as a site for the National Mission Congress, holding in Edo in October.
The leader of the delegation, Rev Fr Stephen Dumbiri, who is also the Chairman, Organising Committee for the National Mission Congress, had said earlier that Vivian, who was born and raised in Benin, is among 25 persons chosen by Pope Francis to be celebrated as heroes of the Christian faith.
He said the faith of the girl would be celebrated during the National Mission Congress and the Extraordinary Mission month of October holding in Benin-City
Dumbiri said the honour accorded to Vivian by the Vatican became possible through the support of the state government to the Catholic Archdiocese of Benin in the immortalisation of Vivian.
He said the Catholic Archdiocese considered the international recognition of Vivian as a call to strengthen the collaboration with the Edo government in upholding the moral standard of youths in the state.
“The collaboration to immortalise her will go a long way to negate the impression that seems to have been created about the youths of Edo as a result of human trafficking and prostitution linked to the state.”
It would be recalled that during the 4th remembrance anniversary held in honour of the slain girl in 2013 when a foundation laying of a Missionary Animation Centre in her memory was done, Rev Fr Benjamin Brodrick, while speaking on the topic, ‘Chastity and the Challenge of Modernism”, had said that Vivian had “joined the league of martyrs and virgins after she refused to summit to the sexual demand by hoodlums to violate her, hence they shot and killed her”.
Brodrick noted, “The modern man and woman is no longer patient enough to attain the age of marriage, forgetting that to have sex outside marriage is to commit an offence against the body.
“Sexual perversion or deviation forbids abstinence before marriage and or fidelity with marriage. Indeed, sex has gone beyond the action of two married persons, with items and beast of the Earth.
“The young girl we are celebrating today, she refused to be raped, like St. Maria Goretti of blessed memory”.
In his homily then, the Archbishop of Benin Archdiocese, Most Reverend Augustine Akubeze, eulogized the late Vivian, describing her as the Maria Goretti of our time.
Akubeze said, “Vivian Uchechi Ogu provides us the example on how to step into the light with Jesus Christ, by igniting a spiritual fire that is burning in the hearts of many. For this reason, Edo State government gave us a land where she was gruesomely murdered four years ago by armed robbers.”