The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has upheld the death sentence handed a mother of one, Maryam Sanda, convicted for murdering her husband, Bilyaminu Bello, a cousin of former Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Haliru Bello.
A three-man panel of the court, in a judgment on Friday afternoon, dismissed Sandra’s appeal for lacking in merit.
She was earlier this year, by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, convicted for murder and ordered to be hanged.
Delivering the earlier judgement in Abuja on January 27, 2020, Justice Halilu said; “She should reap what she has sown, for it has been said that ‘thou shall not kill’ and whoever kills in cold blood deserves death as his own reward,” for killing her husband over a mere misunderstanding
However, Sanda approached the appellate court, seeking to upturn the judgment in a notice of appeal which predicated on 20 grounds.
The appellant through her legal team described the judgment of the trial court as “a miscarriage of justice” and also submitted that the trial judge “erred and misdirected himself by usurping the role of the police when he assumed the duty of an investigating police officer (IPO) as contained in page 76 of his judgment…”
She quoted the trial Judge to have said: “I wish to state that I have a duty thrust upon me to investigate and discover what will satisfy the interest and demands of justice.”
Maryam, through her lawyer, Mr J. K. Gadazama, SAN, maintained that the trial judge failed to restrict himself to the evidence that was adduced before the court.
“The court’s usurpation of the duty of the police by taking it upon itself to investigate and discover negatively coloured its assessment of the available evidence and resulted in it reaching an unjust decision contrary to the evidence before it”, she argued.
She prayed the appellate court to set aside her conviction and the sentence imposed by the high court Judge and acquit her of the charge. However, the appellate court, in the lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Adah, said it was not in doubt that the appellant killed her husband.
The appellate court, however, faulted the trial court judge for his failure to rule on Maryam’s preliminary objection before he delivered final judgement in the matter.
It, therefore, invoked its powers under section 6(6) (a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and dismissed Maryam’s pending preliminary objection for want of merit. The court held that the trial judge was right in his verdict, stressing that the offence of culpable homicide committed by the appellant, is punishable by death under section 221 of the Penal Code.
The court noted that there was evidence that the appellate murdered her husband during a fight that ensued after she saw a nude picture of a girl on his phone.
The trial court had based its judgement on circumstantial evidence before it, Maryam’s testimony during the trial and her statement before the police, which it said established that she fatally stabbed her husband to death in Abuja on November 19, 2017. The court ordered that the convict should remain at the Correctional Center in Suleja till she exhausts her right of appeal.
Police had in the charge marked CR/15/17 which it filed pursuant to section 109(d) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, alleged that Maryam stabbed her husband to death with a broken bottle, at their Abuja residence. The prosecution told the court that Bilyamin died as a result of several stabs on his chest and neck.
Police maintained that the defendant attacked her husband with the knowledge that her act was likely to cause his death.
She was equally charged with the offence of “causing grievous hurt”, contrary to section 247 of the Penal Code Law. Though Maryam’s mother, Maimuna Aliyu, her brother, Aliyu Sanda and one Sadiya Aminu, were initially charged as co-defendant in the matter, they were later discharged by the court.
The prosecution had alleged that Maryam’s family members attempted to destroy evidence that linked her to the murder. Maryam who is the mother of two had in her testimony during the trial, denied the allegation that she killed her husband. She claimed that her husband slipped and fell to a broken Shisha pot.