The Benue State High Court sitting in Makurdi, on Thursday acquitted and discharged Andrew Ogbuja, a senior polytechnic lecturer over his alleged rape and resultant death of 13-year-old, Ochanya Ogbanje, in 2018.
But, his wife, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja, in a similar judgment delivered by a Federal High Court in Makurdi also on Thursday handed her a five month jail without any option.
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Our correspondent reports that Ogbuja was accused alongside his son, Victor, who is still at large, of sexually abusing the deceased while living with them until she fell ill.
Ochanya was admitted at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Makurdi, for two months before she died on October 17, 2018.
In the judgement delivered by Justice Augustine Ityonyiman of the Benue State High Court, the court held that the prosecution failed to prove its four-count charge against Mr Ogbuja.
However, in Mrs Ogbuja’s case at the Federal High Court which day coincided with that of her husband, Justice Mobolaji Olajuwon held that the defendant failed in her duty to protect the late schoolgirl from “being sexually abused by her son, Victor.”
Mrs Ogbuja was, therefore, convicted for negligence, even as the search for their accused son, Victor, by the police has not yet been fruitful.
The court held that, “Ochanya was being abused by the son of the defendant, but the defendant who owed the deceased girl the duty of care to ensure that she was protected from such an act failed in doing so even when Mrs Ogbuja’s daughter, Winifred, drew attention to the sexual assault.”
Justice Olajunwo added that Mrs Ogbuja “made it impossible for the NAPTIP investigating officer to see and interrogate” her daughter in the course of the investigation of the matter.
Meanwhile, various pressure groups and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have frowned on the discharge of Mr Ogbuja.
Dr Helen Teghtegh of Community Links, a CSO, said, “We saw this coming when there was a postponement of judgement. We as CSOs are not satisfied. We are discussing about going for appeal. Consultation is ongoing.”