Maryam Sanda sentenced to death for killing husband

The victim, Mr. Haliru Bello and Wife, Maryam Sanda
The victim, Mr. Haliru Bello and Wife, Maryam Sanda [Photo credit: THISDAYLIVE]

The Federal Capital Territory High Court, on Monday, found Maryam Sanda guilty of killing her husband,  Bilyaminu Bello.

Ms Sanda was sentenced to death by hanging by the judge.

The Nigerian police charged Ms Sanda for culpable homicide in November 2017, and sought the death penalty against the accused in a two count charge.

The victim, Mr Bello, was the son of a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Haliru Bello.

Justice Yusuf Halilu said there was compelling evidence to convict the accused.

The judge dismissed Ms Sanda’s statement that her husband fell on a broken Shisha pot during a fight on the ill-fated day as a “smokescreen to deceive the court”.

He said available evidence proved that the accused stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife with intent to ” kill”.

As the judge pronounced Ms Sanda guilty, the accused attempted to run out of the court room while her relatives started shouting, causing an uproar in an attempt to draw public sympathy and soft landing.

A short break was called by the judge to restore calm before the sentence was delivered.

Earlier, PREMIUM TIMES reported how charges against Maimuna Aliyu, Ms Sanda’s mother; Aliyu Sanda, her brother, and Sadiya Aminu, her housemaid – for allegedly tampering with evidence by cleaning the blood and other proofs from the crime scene – were later dropped.

The trial has dragged on for almost three years due to delays, multiple adjournments and failure of witnesses to appear in court.

Witness Account

The storm in the marriage between Maryam and late Bilyaminu reached boiling point on the night of November 18, 2017. Multiple court testimonies, including that of the accused, indicated that the tragedy was triggered by a heated argument between the couples that ill-fated night.

Ms Sanda allegedly issued many threats to her husband, including to chop off his sex organ if he declined to grant her divorce, Ibrahim Mohammed, one of the six witnesses called by the prosecution said, according to a PREMIUM TIMES report.

He told the court he was with the deceased for over eight hours that night.

Mr Mohammed, a friend of Bilayamin, said their argument had degenerated into a fight.

Mr Mohammed said he tried disengaging Ms Sanda’s hand from her husband’s neck before she rushed to break a bottle of groundnut on the wall and tried stabbing her husband with it.

“I held her hands and Bilyamin went behind her and collected the broken bottle from her.

“She said she would not stop until Bilyamin divorced her that night; that either he divorced her or she would cut his private part,” the witness said.

Mr Mohammed said Ms Sanda made bold her threat as she launched more violent attacks on the deceased before his eyes.

The witness narrated that the first defendant made another attempt to stab her husband after breaking a bottle of perfume, but her husband collected the bottle.

“The first defendant then went to the kitchen and picked a knife with which she attempted again to stab the deceased.”

The witness said his late friend sustained several cuts while trying to disarm his wife.

Mr Mohammed said he left the house with another friend who he had called to help separate the fight, thinking that calm had been restored only to receive news of his friend’s death in the morning.

“I went to Maitama Hospital in the morning and met Bilyaminu lying on a bed in front of the hospital. There was a hole in his chest near the heart, bite on his stomach. There was a cut on his thigh and there was a sign of stitching on him,” he said.

Sanda’s Account

In her testimony before the court, Ms Sanda admitted that the two-year marriage that produced a baby girl was fraught with quarrels.

READ ALSO: Woman who burned co-wife, seven stepchildren alive sentenced to death

She, however, denied killing her husband or nursing such intentions. The mother-of-one said trouble started after she discovered nude pictures of another woman in her late husband’s phone and confronted him.

Ms Sanda said she had asked for a divorce before arguments which continued late into the night snowballed into a fight.

“He pushed me and as I was falling down, I mistakenly broke his Shisha bottle and the water inside spilled 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”, she narrated.

The accused said the deceased fell against the broken Shisha pot 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.”

The young woman said she rushed her husband to Maitama General Hospital where he was confirmed dead.

Sketchy Evidence

Sanda’s relatives allegedly assisted her in cleaning up the crime scene and no autopsy was carried out to ascertain the actual cause of Mr Bello’s death.

Regina Okotie-Eboh, lawyer to the accused, argued that the prosecution failed to prove the allegations. She said the prosecution did not call nurses or doctors from the hospital where the deceased was taken to as witnesses.

Mrs Okotie-Ebor added that they failed to tender the knife with which the defendant allegedly used to perpetrate the act.

The judge in December fixed January 27 to deliver judgment.

More details shortly…



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