The Benue State High Court sitting in Makurdi, has slated October 8, 2021 for the alleged Benue rapist lecturer, Mr. Andrew Ogbuja, to open his defence to the charge the Benue State Government entered against him.
The state government had on October 10, 2019, dragged Mr Ogbuja, a 57-year-old, who is a lecturer with the Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo, before a Makurdi High Court on a four-count charge bordering on rape and murder of a 13-year-old schoolgirl, Miss Elizabeth Ogbanje.
Trial Judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman adjourned the case to October 8 for the defendant to open his defence, after State Government closed its case with the evidence of the eighth Prosecution witness, PW-8.
The witness who identified himself as Bulus told the court that he is a photojournalist and was led by the Director of Public Prosecution in the State, Peter Ukande.
Earlier, a video cassette was played before the court, where the late Ochanya said Mr Ogbuja and his fugitive son, Victor, serially raped her until she fell ill and was admitted at the Federal Medical Centre in Makurdi for two months.
While being crossed examine, 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 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 lawyers in the suit for an accelerated hearing, the defendant’s counsel withdrew his objection, paving the way for the judge to admit the piece of evidence.
The lead Prosecution counsel, Peter Ukande , thereafter announced State’s decision to close its case at that point after calling a total of eight witnesses comprising medical experts, family members of the deceased and police officers who investigated the case.
Mr Ogbuja’s son, Victor, who is now at large, is a second suspect in the case but the police are yet to arrest him or even declare him wanted.
On his part, Ogbuja’s lawyer, asked for a date to open his defence.
Consequently, trial Justice Ityonyiman adjourned the case to October 8, 2021, for the defendant to commence his defence.
It would be recalled that late Ochanya died on October 17, 2018 from alleged complications said to have resulted from her prolonged rape by Mr Ogbuja and his fugitive son.