The family of the late 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje, who was allegedly raped by a father and his son, has raised the alarm over threats to the lives of its members by supporters of the accused.
Ochanya died on October 17, 2018, after battling complications, which arose from the prolonged sexual assaults she allegedly suffered in the hands of Mr Andrew Ogbuja, and his son, Victor, for several years while she was living with them.
The deceased’s brother, Mr Ameh Ejekwonyilo, who spoke on behalf of the family at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, said, “The recent harassment of one of the family members of the late Ochanya, who is a key witness in the matter, by political associates of the Ogbuja and Ochiga families is disturbing, to say the least.
“By the calculation of the suspects’ family and political associates, if the witnesses fail to attend court proceedings, the suit will be struck out by the trial judge for want of diligent prosecution.”
Ejekwonyilo said members of his family, including his parents and siblings as well as other witnesses, were being threatened.
He explained that a younger sibling to the principal suspect’s wife, who is an official of the Nigerian Prisons Service, assaulted him on the premises of the Federal High Court, Makurdi, Benue State, where he had gone to witness the proceedings in the trial of Mrs Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja in April this year.
The family said it was surprised that the police had yet to arrest and prosecute the second suspect, Victor, more than a year after Ochanya’s death.
In a petition written to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the family appealed to the police to investigate the matter and take appropriate measures to safeguard the lives of its members as they seek justice for Ochanya.
The President, Federal Government Girls’ College, Gboko, Old Girls’ Association, Federal Capital Territory chapter, Dr Ngozi Adzodoh, appealed to the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, to follow through on his pledge to ensure that justice was served in the case.
She lamented the epidemic of child sexual violation across the country and urged the Federal Government to declare a national emergency on the scourge.
Speaking in the same vein, the Executive Director of a Non-Governmental Organisation, Make A Difference Initiative, Mr Lemmy Ughegbe, called for stiffer penalties for paedophiles.
Ochanya died of complications arising from Vesicovaginal fistula, a condition she developed after a four-year-long rape ordeal.