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Ochanya: Slow pace of trial underscores need for special courts

As we marked the third-year memorial of Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje yesterday, it is sad to observe the slow pace of the on-going trial of Andrew…

As we marked the third-year memorial of Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje yesterday, it is sad to observe the slow pace of the on-going trial of Andrew Ogbuja for sexually abusing her for five years until her death on 17th October 2018.

Ochanya died three years ago following health complications as a result of being serially raped and sodomised from when she was eight years old by Andrew and his son, Victor Ogbuja.

The snail pace of Ogbuja’s trial underscores the increasing need for special courts to be designated for cases bordering on sexual violence and sundry cases of Gender Based Violence in Nigeria.

The need for special courts becomes even more urgent when we take note that even government has acknowledged sexual violence as a social pandemic within the country with the attendant psychosocial consequences it poses to victims, survivors, their families and society at large.

A speedy dispensation of justice will go a long way in sending the right signal to paedophiles, rapists and all other sex predators that the arm of the law will catch up with them without delay and put them out of circulation and away from the society.

It is such deterrents that can help discourage sex predators from their heinous and bestial acts, restore sanity to society and create safe spaces for children and women.

We, however, expressed optimism that justice will be served on Ochanya’s rapists eventually. The fact that the trial court admitted video evidence, wherein Ochanya narrated how Andrew and Victor Ogbuja took turns to violate her for five years was a major boost for prosecution to prove its case.

Whilst Andrew has been cooling his heels in Makurdi correctional facility in nearly three years from where he attends his trial, his son and co-conspirator, Victor has been at large.

We query the lack of commitment of the police to apprehend Victor and bring him to justice three years since he was found culpable and recommend by the Benue State Ministry of Justice for trial.

The police have regrettably been comfortable allowing someone who poses imminent and immediate danger to the society and especially children to mingle with the society.

Despite his running from justice, the police have refused to declare Victor wanted and publish his photo to that effect. This is troubling as our kids are not safe insofar as he remains free.

Lemmy Ughegbe, a Child & Gender Rights Advocate, wrote in from Abuja