By Peter Duru – Makurdi
A lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo Mr. Andrew Ogbuja who was fingered in the alleged rape of late Ochanya Ogbanje is to open his defense in a Makurdi High Court on October 8, 2021 in the criminal case preferred against him by the Benue state government.
The state government had on October 10, 2019 dragged the 57 year old Mr. Ogbuja before the Court presided over by Justice Augustine Ityonyiman on a four-count charge bordering on rape and murder of the 13-year-old Miss Ogbanje.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, the State Government closed its case after calling eight witnesses.
The last witness, Prosecution Witness, PW, eight who identified himself as Bulus and a photojournalist was led in evidence by the Prosecution Counsel and Director of Public Prosecution in the State, Peter Ukande.
Earlier, a video recording was played before the court, where the late Ochanya disclosed that Mr. Ogbuja and his son, Victor who has been at large, severally raped her until she fell ill and was admitted at the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi for two months.
“My aunty’s (Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja) son started sleeping with me, and after that his father, (Andrew Ogbuja) started sleeping with me too. I was sick and admitted at the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi for two months,” Ochanya revealed in the video that was played before the court.
While being crossed examined, the journalist informed the court that he interviewed the deceased teenager at the premises of the court in August 2018 when Mr. Ogbuja was first arraigned at the Upper Area Court in Makurdi.
However, counsel to the accused, Abel Onoja, objected to the admissibility of the video clip, arguing that he was not properly served with a copy of the video recording.
But upon an appeal by the trial judge to both counsels to ensure accelerated hearing of the matter the defense counsel withdrew his objection, paving way for the piece of evidence to be admitted.
The Prosecution counsel thereafter closed his case after calling all his witnesses including medical experts, family members of the deceased teenager and police officers who investigated the case.
The defense counsel on his part asked for a date to open his defense and the trial Judge adjourned the case to October 8, 2021, for the defendant to open his defence.
It would be recalled that late Ochanya died on October 17, 2018 from complications arising from the alleged prolonged rape by the defendant and his son who is currently at large.