Ochanya’s death: CSOs call for special court for rape cases

Two frontline Civil Society Organisations fighting against rape in Nigeria have demanded for a special court to handle cases of rape in the country.

The groups under the aegis of Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF) and its parent organisation, Make A Difference Initiative (MAD) made the demand to mark the third year memorial of Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje, who died three years ago following health complications as a result of being serially raped and sodomised when she was eight years old.

In a statement released to newsmen Sunday in Abuja, decried the slow pace of the on-going trial of one Andrew Ogbuja for allegedly sexually abused the late Ochanya.

In an electronic statement signed by the Executive Director of MARF and MAD, Lemmy Ughegbe, the organisations noted that “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 duo said “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.”

They argued that “a speedy dispensation of justice will go a long way in sending the right signal to pedophiles, 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 ànd 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”, they added.

However, they expressed optimism that justice will be served on Ochanya’s rapists eventually, adding that “the fact that the trial court admitted a video evidence, wherein Ochanya narrated how Andrew and Victor Ogbuja took turns to violate her for 5 years was a major boost for prosecution to prove its case.”

The duo noted that “whilst Andrew has been cooling his heels in Makurdi correctional facility in nearly 3 years from where he attends his trial, his son and co-conspirator, Victor has been at large.”

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

According to them, “the police has regrettably been comfortable with allowing someone who poses imminent and immediate danger to the society and especially children to mingle with the society. It beats us hollow to note that the police seems sympathetic to a pedophile. Despite his running from justice, the police has refused to declare Victor wanted and published his photo to that effect. This is troubling as our r kids are not safe in so far as he remains free.”

The organisations said they will take extraordinary steps to apprehend Victor and bring him to justice.