The High court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, on Monday 27th January 2020, convicted and sentenced Maryam Sanda, daughter-in-law to a former Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Mohammed Bello Haliru, to death by hanging.
Maryam Sanda was found guilty of stabbing her husband, Bilyamin Bello, who was a real estate developer, to death in 2017.
Justice Yusuf Halilu revealed that circumstantial evidence before the court, as well as Maryam’s testimony during the trial and her statement before the police, established that she fatally stabbed her husband to death in Abuja on November 19, 2017.
The court ordered that the convict Maryam Sanda should remain at the Correctional Center in Suleja till she exhausts her right of appeal.
In the charge marked CR/15/17, which Police filed pursuant to section 109(d) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, Maryam was accused of stabbing her husband to death with a broken bottle, at their residence in Abuja.
The prosecution however, 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.
Maryam Sanda was equally charged with the offence of “causing grievous hurt”, contrary to section 247 of the Penal Code Law.
Though her mother, Maimuna Aliyu, her brother, Aliyu Sanda and one Sadiya Aminu, were initially charged as a co-defendant in the matter, they were discharged by the court which held that they had no case to answer with respect to the murder charge.
The prosecution had alleged that Maryam’s family members attempted to destroy evidence that linked her to the murder. It alleged that upon realizing that an offence of culpable homicide was committed, the other defendants, “did cause evidence of the offence to disappear”.
It said the other defendants had carefully cleaned the blood from the scene of the crime with the intention of screening the 1st defendant, Maryam from legal punishment.
According to the prosecution, the three persons involved in the scrubbing-off of murdered Bilyamin’s blood, by their action, committed an offence punishable under section 167 of the Penal Code Law.
The court however held that Police failed to way of credible evidence, establish a prima-facie case against Maryam’s family members. Meanwhile, Maryam Sanda who is a mother of two, and her family members could not contain their tears after the court found her guilty as charged.
Her mother wept uncontrollably as she sped out of the court from where she sat at the back row. Likewise, the convict who broke down in the dock attempted to run out of the courtroom but was blocked and brought back by security operatives. Following the mild commotion, her lawyer tried to persuade the court to temper justice with mercy by giving her a mild sentence.
After Justice Halilu stood down the matter for a while to allow normalcy to be restored in the courtroom, he returned and sentenced the defendant to death by hanging, in line with section 221 of the Penal Code which he said does not allow for a plea of Mercy.
While passing his Judgement, Justice Halilu held: “It has been said that thou shall not kill. Whoever kills in cold blood shall die in cold blood”.
“Maryam Sanda should reap what she has sown,” the Judge added, stressing that, “it is blood for blood”.
He found the defendant guilty on the two-count culpable homicide charge the Nigerian Police Force entered against her.
The judge held that the prosecution proved that the defendant killed her husband by stabbing him and tried to conceal her action by claiming he fell on a broken bottle.
Justice Haliru said it was obvious from the totality of the evidence before the court that disagreement broke out between the defendant and her husband after she saw a nude picture of a female in her husband’s phone when she wanted to use it.
Police closed its case against the defendants after it produced a total of six witnesses that testified before the court.
Maryam Sanda had in her testimony before the court, admitted that the two-year marriage that produced a baby girl, was fraught with quarrels. She denied killing her husband, revealing however that she had requested for the night they had the argument that led to a fight.
Giving her own account of what happened, she said: “He pushed me and as I was falling down, I mistakenly broke his Shisha bottle and the water inside spilt on the floor. “He pinned me to the ground and I heard our daughter crying. I told him to leave me so that I could attend to her and he loosened up a bit and I struggled to my feet.”
Maryam Sanda claimed that her late husband fell against the broken Shisha bottle in an attempt to hold her down again. “I saw a broken bottle pricked into his chest which I removed and covered the chest with a scarf”, saying she immediately rushed him to Maitama General Hospital where he was confirmed dead.
Her lawyer, Regina Okotie-Eboh, had insisted that Police failed to prove the murder charge against her client. She contended that the neither called nurses nor doctors from the hospital where the deceased was taken to testify before the court.
In final remarks, the defence lawyer faulted the prosecution over its failure to adduce some vital evidence, including the knife the defendant allegedly used to commit the murder