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Lawyers to appeal death sentence on Maryam Sanda over alleged murder of her husband

Lawyers to Maryam Sanda, who was recently sentenced to death for killing her husband, are looking at openings to appeal the judgment.
Sanda was on Monday, January 27 sentenced to death by hanging for killing her husband, Late Bilayaminu Bello.
A member of her legal team told ThisDay newspaper that they will appeal the judgement by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“She has a constitutional right of appeal and definitely she has to exercise it. We will definitely appeal the judgment,” the unnamed attorney said.
The federal government had arraigned Sanda on a two-count charge bordering on murder.
In the judgment delivered, the trial judge held that there was circumstantial evidence coupled with the defendant’s testimony and statement to the police that she “fatally” stabbed her husband to death in Abuja on November 19, 2017.
The judge while stating that the offence for which the defendant was convicted was based on Section 221 of the Penal Code imposed the maximum sentence.
Justice Halilu said, “The concept of justice is tripled in nature, justice to the deceased, Bilyaminu, whose life was cut short in a brutal manner and whose innocent blood cries to high heavens for vengeance, justice to the perpetrators of the crime, who cannot be denied the benefit of the procedure ordained by God in the Garden of Eden that is fair hearing or fair trial, justice to society whose membership has been depleted by one.
“I am left in no doubt that the defendant has not just failed but woefully failed to explain the death of the deceased bearing in mind her discredited colourfully dressed evidence.
“I am more than convinced that the defendant fatally stabbed the deceased with the same knife she threatened him with which she has also mentioned in her statement to the police with the full knowledge was not just probable or certain.
“When I come to terms with the fact that the person involved here is the accused person’s lawfully married husband and who has a baby with him at the time of his gruesome murder.
“This is not just sad and unfortunate but indeed wicked. While I am in sympathy with the position of the accused person, a young mother, two children, whose father by her inhuman action sent him to an early grave, my sentiment will not go far to free the accused person from the long arm of the law. After all, it is indeed in law that sentiment has no place in judicial process, particularly when the sentiment is against the law.
“Clearly, with every available evidence before me, I have come to the irresistible conclusion that you, Maryam Sanda, are guilty of the murder of Bilyaminu, your husband, who you indeed killed in cold blood. You are hereby convicted for the murder of Bilyaminu as charged.
“In view of the fact that you were the only one last seen with him and now that your story of ‘sisha’ bottle has been discredited beyond doubt that same was broken after the death of Bilyaminu, I ask you both questions in view of the evidence of PW1, PW2, PW3, PW4 and exhibit A,B,C and G, which are all unanimous on the injuries inflicted on the deceased. And the fact that you threatened to cut the private parts of the deceased severally.”
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The police on November 24, 2017 arraigned Maryam alongside her mother (Maimuna Aliyu), brother (Aliyu Sanda) and their house help (Sadiya Aminu) on two counts of culpable homicide and an ancillary offence.
Maryam was a nursing mother and also three-month pregnant when she was arraigned.
She was delivered of her second baby girl during her two years and two months’ trial.
The prosecution in the first count accused Maryam of stabbing her husband.
The incident was said to have occurred in the couple’s apartment at 4 Pakali Close, Wuse 2 Abuja about 3.50am on November 19, 2017.
The three others were accused of causing the “evidence of the offence to disappear” by “cleaning the blood from the scene of crime with the intention” of shielding her “from legal punishment.”
On April 4, 2019, Justice Halilu in a ruling on the no-case submission filed by the four defendants after the prosecution closed its case with six witnesses discharged the three other defendants but ruled that Maryam had a case to answer.
Maryam, who had been attending the trial since November 2017 having her face covered with a veil, called one other person with herself as the two defence witnesses.
Justice Halilu dismissed her claim that her husband fell on the shards of a broken ‘sisha’ bottle during a fight between them.
Maryam had claimed that a fight broke out between them after she saw the picture of a nude girl on her husband’s phone.
The judge noted from the testimonies of Ibrahim Mohammed, the first prosecution witness and the friend of the deceased and Usman Aliyu, the fourth prosecution witness, who were both in the house before and after police visited there, the ‘sisha bottle’ was only broken after the death of her husband.
The first prosecution witness had earlier witnessed the scuffle between the couple and had to retrieve a knife from Maryam three or four times, thus preventing her from carrying out her threat to cut off her husband’s private parts.
“I am fortified by the unshaken evidence of PW1 and PW4 to conclude that the ‘almighty sisha’ bottle was broken and the living room was scattered to serve as a smokescreen, all carefully stage-managed to cover Maryam Sanda’s action,” the judge ruled.
He held that although there was no eyewitness to the incident and there was no confessional statement by anyone admitting to the commission of the crime, there was enough circumstantial evidence pointing to the guilt of Maryam as the killer of her husband.
The judge ruled, “From the totality of the evidence of the defendant, who was the last person to be seen with the deceased when he sustained the injuries that eventually led to his death, coupled with the surrounding circumstances that led to the death of the deceased, evidence of PW1, PW2, DW1 And DW2 (the accused) as reproduced in the body of this judgment, it is now very irresistibly clear that the defendant, fatally injured the deceased by stabbing him in the heart region, thigh, back, using the same knife which she had threatened to use on the deceased with the premeditated intention of killing him.”
Maryam, who appeared in court wearing a black flowing dress with a black veil covering her face, ran out of the courtroom through the door next to the dock weeping profusely when Justice Halilu pronounced her guilty.
Her mother and other relatives broke down in tears.
In the middle of the confusion the defence lawyer, Regina Okotie-Eboh, attempted to make a plea for allocutus (plea for mercy), but the judge said he needed to rise for the courtroom to restore to calm.
Her father was also pacing up and down the courtroom and intermittently seen with her daughter trying to pacify her.
Justice Halilu said the offence for which the convict was convicted being one based on Section 221 of the Penal Code, there would be no room for allocutus.
“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. It is blood for blood.
“She is hereby sentenced to death by hanging until she dies,” the judge said.

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