Appeal Court Affirms Death Sentence for Maryam Sanda

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

The Court of Appeal, Abuja yesterday, affirmed the death sentence handed down Mrs. Maryam Sanda, for allegedly stabbing her husband, late Bilyamin Bello, to death.

A three man panel of the appellate court in a unanimous judgment affirmed the decision of Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the grounds that Maryam’s appeal lacked merit having failed to prove allegations of miscarriage of justice against the trial court.

Justice Halilu had in a judgment delivered on January 27, this year found Maryam, a mother of two guilty of culpable homicide preferred against her by the federal government and consequently handed her the maximum punishment.

“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.

“Convict also clearly deserves to die, accordingly I hereby sentence Maryam Sanda to death by hanging until she dies”, the trial judge had held.

Dissatisfied, the mother of two approached the appellate court, seeking to upturn the judgment.

In a notice of appeal predicated on 20 grounds, the appellant through her legal team described the judgment of the trial court as “a miscarriage of justice”.

She submitted that the judge relied on circumstantial evidence as there was “lack of confessional statement, absence of murder weapon, lack of corroboration of evidence by two or more witnesses and lack of autopsy report to determine the true cause of her husband’s death.”

She 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…”

But in its judgment yesterday, the appellate court disagreed with the claims of the appellant against the decision of the trial court.

The three man panel in the judgment read by Justice Stephen Adah held that the trial judge was right in reaching a guilty verdict against the appellant as well as passing the maximum punishment.

“I have gone through the record before the court and I am fully certain that the learned trial court did not engage any investigation outside the evidence before it.

“The appellant did not point out where the trial judge went out of the scope of his duties to carry out an investigation,” he said.

The panel stated that the word “investigation” used by the lower court was “taken out of context” by the appellant, adding that ingredients of the offence were clearly established as it was required by law.

Justice Adah further explained that where there were no organic facts leading to get the cause of death, circumstances surrounding the death could be the best proof of what was being alleged in a case.

“We have no choice also in the face of these convincing situations that the conclusion of the trial court cannot in light of the facts in the face of the records before us be faulted.

“Having resolved all the issues against the appellant, it is our conclusion that this appeal is lacking in merit and the appeal is hereby dismissed.

“Then that of the trial court delivered on the 27 day of January 2020 is affirmed and also the conviction and sentence handed down by the trial court are also affirmed”, Justice Adah held.