The Court of Appeal in Abuja has affirmed the death sentence passed on Maryam Sanda, who stabbed her husband, late Bilyamin Bello, to death.
A three man panel of the appellate court, in a unanimous judgment today, December 4, 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.
In the judgment read by Justice Stephen Adah, the judges 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.”
The court said 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 is required by law.
Justice Adah explained that where there are no organic facts leading to get the cause of death, circumstances surrounding the death can be the best proof of what is 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 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…”