The Court of Appeal in Abuja, on Friday, upheld the conviction and death sentence that was handed to Maryam Sanda, daughter-inlaw to a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr Mohammed Bello Haliru.
Maryam, a mother of two, had on February 19, 2020, filed 20-ground notice of appeal, praying for an order discharging, and acquitting her.
She contended that the judgment convicting her was tainted by bias and prejudices resulting in her being denied her right to fair hearing.
The appellate court, in a unanimous judgement by a three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Stephen Adah, said it found no reason to set aside the verdict of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, which okayed 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.
Maryam, who was on January 27, found guilty of stabbing her husband, Bilyamin Bello, a real estate developer to death at their Abuja residence in 2017, had in her appeal, maintained that she was denied fair hearing by the trial court.She argued that the failure of the trial judge to rule on a preliminary objection she filed to challenge the charge against her and jurisdiction of the court to entertain same based on evidence of bias and lack of fair hearing she raised, rendered the judgement a nullity.According to her, “the trial judge erred in law when having taken arguments on her preliminary objection to the validity of the charge on the 19th of March, 2018 failed to rule on it at the conclusion of the trial or at any other time.”Besides, she alleged that the Judge erred and misdirected himself by usurping the role of the police when he assumed the duty of an Investigating Police Officer (IPO).
She quoted the trial Judge to have said: “I wish to state that I have a duty thrust upon me to investigate and discover what will satisfy the interest and demands of justice.”
Maryam, through her lawyer, Mr J. K. Gadazama, SAN, maintained that the trial judge failed to restrict himself to the evidence that was adduced before the court.“The court’s usurpation of the duty of the police by taking it upon itself to investigate and discover negatively coloured its assessment of the available evidence and resulted in it reaching an unjust decision contrary to the evidence before it”, she argued.
She prayed the appellate court to set aside her conviction and the sentence imposed by the high court Judge and acquit her of the charge.
However, the appellate court, in the lead judgement that was delivered by Justice Adah, said it was not in doubt that the appellant killed her husband.The court noted that there was evidence that the appellate murdered her husband during a fight that ensued after she saw a nude picture of a girl on his phone.
The trial court had based its judgement on circumstantial evidence before it, Maryam’s testimony during the trial and her statement before the police, which it said established that she fatally stabbed her husband to death in Abuja on November 19, 2017.
The court ordered that the convict should remain at the Correctional Center in Suleja till she exhausts her right of appeal
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