The Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, has remanded Mrs Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja at the Federal Prisons, Makurdi, for negligence over the alleged rape and death of 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje.
The trial judge, Justice M. O. Olajuwon handed down the remand on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.
Felicia, Ochanya’s aunty, is wife and mother to Mr Andrew Ogbuja and Victor Ogbuja, respectively, who committed the heinous crime.
Recall that Ochanya died in October 2018 as a result of complications from the alleged sexual molestation she suffered in the hands of Mr Ogbuja and his son.
Mrs Ogbuja, 43, was arraigned by the Federal Government through the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, NAPTIP, on a two-count charge in a suit which was marked FHC/MKD/CR/12/209.
Mrs Ogbuja until her arraignment was also a staff of the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo. The charges against her are:
“That, you, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (Female) 43 years of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State, sometime between 2014 and 2018, in Ugbokolo, Benue State within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did omit to take action against the sexual exploitation of one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje (Female) 13 years by your husband, Andrew Ogbuja and your son, Victor Ogbuja, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 13 (4) (b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.
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“That you, Felicia Ochiga-Ogbuja (Female) 43 years of Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, Benue State, did keep, detain or harbour one Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje (Female) 13 years, knowing that she is likely to be sexually exploited by your husband, Andrew Ogbuja and your son, Victor Ogbuja, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 15 (b) of the Trafficking in Persons Prohibition Enforcement and Administration Act, 2015.”
Mrs Ogbuja pleaded not guilty to the charges after they were read to her.
Consequently, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Swanta Bossan, urged the court to remand her in prison pending the commencement of her trial.
However, counsel to the defendant, Mr David Ojile, prayed the court to admit his client to bail arguing that the offences for which she was being tried were bailable and further drew the attention of the court to his client’s bail application dated and filed on April 5, 2019.
Justice M. O. Olajuwon after listening to the submission of counsel remanded Mrs Ogbuja in Makurdi Medium prison pending when she would provide N2million bail bond.
“The defendant is admitted to bail in the sum of N2 million with sureties in like sum. The sureties must be civil servants not less than grade-level 12. They must own properties within the jurisdiction of this court. The sureties must submit letters of introduction from their Head of Department to the Court Registrar. They must submit the Certificates of Occupancy of their properties, which must be verified by the Court Registrar.
“The defendant will be remanded in the Federal Prison, Makurdi, pending when she fulfils her bail conditions,” Justice Olajuwon held and subsequently adjourned the case till May 10, 2019, for trial.
Our correspondent reports that while Mr and Mrs Ogbuja have been remanded at the Makurdi prison, their son, Victor is reportedly still at large.