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HomeChild sexual abuseAppeal Court upholds Mrs Ogbuja’s conviction over Ochanya's death

Appeal Court upholds Mrs Ogbuja’s conviction over Ochanya’s death

The Court of Appeal in Makurdi has upheld the conviction of Felicia Ogbuja by a Federal High Court for failing to protect the late Ochanya Ogbanje from allegedly being repeatedly raped by her husband and son.

Ochanya, who was a JSS1 pupil of the Federal Government Girls College Gboko in Benue State, died on October 17, 2018, of complications linked to alleged repeated rape.

It will be recalled that while the Benue State High Court in Makurdi, on April 28, 2022, acquitted Mr Andrew Ogbuja, a lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, of rape and causing the death of Miss Ogbanje, the Federal High Court in Makurdi, in a separate case on the same day, convicted Mr Ogbuja’s wife (Felicia) for negligence.

The Federal High Court Judge, Mobolaji Olajuwon, found Mrs Ogbuja guilty of failing to protect the deceased girl from her husband and son in a case brought before the court in 2019 by the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking In Persons, NAPTIP.

Delivering judgement on the appeal via Zoom, on Friday, the Court of Appeal in Makurdi, agreed with the Federal High Court that Mrs Ogbuja failed in her duty to protect Ochanya from the “sexual exploitation” of her husband and son.

The three-member panel led by Justice Hassan Muslim dismissed Mrs Ogbuja’s argument that the charge upon which she was convicted and sentenced was unknown to law.

The court held that “the conviction endures on appeal once it is shown by the facts on which the appellant is convicted constitute an offence known to law. It does not matter if the conviction is under the wrong section of the law.”

Justice Muslim said Mrs Ogbuja understood the charge and pleaded not guilty to it as she “tailored her defence towards same.”

He held that the appellant’s conviction did not occasion a miscarriage of justice, saying, “the offence is the defendant’s omission to take action against the sexual exploitation of Ochanya by her husband and her son.”

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