A HIGH Court of the Federal Capital Teritory (FCT) in Maitama has sentenced Maryam Sanda, a mother of two, to death by hanging for the murder of her husband, Biliaminu Bello Haliru.
Sanda was said to have murdered her husband, Bilyaminu, described as a nephew of former PDP chairman, Bello Halliru Muhammad, during a scuffle in their Abuja home on November 19, 2017.
Although she was initially charged with her mother, Maimuna Aliyu, her brother, Aliyu Sanda and her housemaid, Sadiya Aminu, who were charged with assisting her to conceal evidence by cleaning the blood of the deceased from the scene of the crime, the court upheld their no-case submission, leaving only Maryam to go through the entire trial on the charge of culpable homicide, punishable by death under the Penal Code law of Northern Nigeria.
Justice Haliru rejected the defence’ argument that the prosecution’s failure to produce the murder weapon, medical evidence in the form of autopsy report, eye witness account and confessional statement were fatal to the prosecution’s case.
*From the available evidence, there was no eye witness, the defendant did not confess to killing her husband, no autopsy report, eye witness and no murder weapon was tendered.
“It is not the law that failure to produce murder weapon is fatal to the case of the prosecution. The court can infer the cause of death where there is not medical evidence as to the cause of death, based on circumstantial evidence.
“Even though there was no eye witness, no confession on the part of the defendant, the court is left with no option than to draw inference from the preponderance of evidence, thereby taking the realm of circumstantial evidence.”
Justice Haliru said the court can rely on the doctrine of last see, where, it becomes the duty of the person last seen with the deceased provide reasons/ explanation of the deceased’s death.
He added that under the doctrine of last seen, it is the duty of the accused person to give reason how the deceased met his death. He added that, in the absence of an explanation the court can conclude that it was the last person seen with the deceased that caused the death of the deceased.
“The doctrine of last seen is an exception to the water-tight provision of presumption of innocence under Section 36(5) of the Constitution. Under the doctrine of last seen, the defendant has the duty to provide convincing evidence of how the deceased died,” the judge said.
Justice Haliru noted that while there were uncomtroverted evidence that the defendant had threatened to cut off her husband’s manhood with their kitchen knife, but was prevented, she failed to mention such development in her oral testimony in court.
The judge noted that the defendant never said she attempted to injure her husband by picking knife three to four times in her evidence in court, despite admitting same in her written statements to the police.
The judge also faulted the defendant’s claim that her husband died when he fell on broken pieces of shisha bottle during a scuffle.
He added that in view of the discretion of the evidence about the broken Shisha bottle, the evidence of the defendant becomes manifestly unreliable in view of the contradictions.
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