Benue State Government on Thursday finally arraigned Mr Andrew Ogbuja, a senior lecturer at the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, who was alleged to have raped a 13-year-old girl, Ochanya Ogbanje.
Ochanya was reported to have died on October 17, 2018 due to complications from the prolonged rape which was alleged to have involved the lecturer and his son, Victor.
Mr Ogbuja’s son was said to still be at large when the case was heard at the State High Court, Makurdi.
The lecturer was arraigned on four charges bordering on rape and murder.
When the charges were read to the accused, he pleaded not guilty.
Following his plea, the prosecuting lawyer, Mr. P. M. Ukande, Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, Benue State, urged the court to remand the defendant and fix a date for trial.
The defence lawyer, Mr. Abel Onoja, said he was not against the application for trial but prayed the court to make an order to compel the prosecution to ensure that the medical experts named in the suit are physically brought before the court to testify.
“My Lord, I have a motion which seeks to compel the prosecutors to produce medical experts who have been mentioned in the proof of evidence to be put on notice as to their physical appearance in court, so that they can testify when the trial commences,” the defence lawyer said.
Reacting to the application, the prosecuting counsel said it was “premature to come up with such a request, given the fact that the trial has not fully commenced.”
The trial judge, Justice Augustine Ityonyiman, while agreeing with the prosecutor, overruled the defendant’s application, saying that “it is premature.”
Subsequently, the court adjourned the suit to November 14, 2019, for the commencement of trial.