The trial of a Benue State lecturer, Andrew Ogbujah, who allegedly raped 13-year-old Ochanya Ogbanje, was stalled on Friday, following the absence of the magistrate, Isaac Ajim.

Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor, were brought before the Magistrate Court by the State Police Command, for their alleged involvement in a series of rape that resulted in the death of Miss Ogbanje.

The victim contacted Vesico-Vaginal Fistula (VVF) from the series of rape that lasted over five years.

While the lecturer has denied culpability, his son is still missing. The young Ogbuja disappeared when investigations began.

The matter had been adjourned till November 29 but was stalled again by the absence of the judge in court on Thursday.

Premium Times reported that a guardian of the deceased, Enuwa Soo, who had catered for Miss Ogbanje shortly before her death, said the case was adjourned after the court clerk informed parties that the magistrate was away in Abuja, for a programme.

“The case could not continue today because the judge was said to have gone to Abuja for a conference,” Ms Soo said.

The trial was later adjourned till December 14 for further hearing.

Mr Ogbuja’s wife has also been arrested in connection with the matter.

Thursday’s hearing was reportedly attended by the Benue State Commissioner of Justice, Mike Gusa, who pledged the state government’s commitment towards ensuring justice for the late Ms Ogbanje.

Ms Ogbanje’s death has drawn widespread criticism on Nigeria’s efforts towards the protection of its vulnerable groups, especially young girls and children.

While individuals and groups have demanded justice for Ms Ochanya, others have called for the implementation of structures that will help avoid a recurrence.

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