[ICYMI] Appeal Court upholds death sentence on Maryam Sanda for killing her husband

The court of appeal, Abuja Division on Friday, affirmed the death sentence imposed on Maryam Sanda for killing her husband, Binyamin Mohammed Bello.

The federal government had arraigned Sanda and three others on a two-count charge bordering on the culpable homicide of which Yusuf Halilu of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory convicted and sentenced her to death by hanging on January 27, 2020.

According to the trial judge, “She should reap what she has shown, for it has been said that thou shall not kill and whoever kills in cold blood deserves death as his own reward.

“The convict clearly deserves to die, accordingly I hereby sentence Maryam Sanda to death by hanging until she dies,” Justice Halilu held in the judgment.

Dissatisfied by the death sentence, Maryam approached the appellate court seeking to upturn the judgment of the trial court which sentenced her to death by hanging.

She stated in a notice of appeal predicated on 20 grounds, that the judgment of the trial court was “a miscarriage of justice and that the trial 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.”

Maryam 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, the three-man panel of justices of the appellate court, led by Justice Stephen Adah, in a unanimous judgement held that it found no reason to set aside the verdict of the trial Court of which sentenced Maryam to die by hanging.

It held that the 20 grounds of appeal Maryam filed to challenge her conviction and sentence lacked merit and deserved to be dismissed.

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.

The court then 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.

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