Two Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and the Society for Civic Education and Gender Equity (SCEGE) have called for amnesty for Maryam Sanda convicted for killing her husband, Bilyaminu Bello. Justice Halilu on January 27 sentenced Maryam to death by hanging for killing her husband and was also ordered to be remanded in Suleja Correctional Centre until she exhausts her appeal rights.
But HURIWA National Coordinator Emmanuel Onwubiko, and SCEGE Advocacy Manager, Mary Ogochukwu Aniefuna in a statement yesterday in Abuja, also faulted the judgement delivered by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Abuja High Court, which convicted Maryam. They said that the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence and thus a miscarriage of justice.
According to them rather than the circumstantial evidence used in convicting Maryam, the law of the nation that the charge of murder or culpable homicide must be proven beyond reasonable doubt should have been applied.
They said it is curious why a judge would trifle with an offence of culpable homicide, which attracts death by choosing to draw conclusions of the guilt of Maryam based on hearsay. Onwubiko said, “We must point out that no witness testified to seeing Maryam stabbing her husband, no murder weapon was tendered by the police in evidence, no confessional statement was made by Maryam or anyone else for that matter and no two of the six Police witnesses corroborated each other’s testimonies to the effect that Maryam killed Bilyaminu. Aniefuna on her part said that Maryam had filed a preliminary objection, challenging the competence of the charge and the jurisdiction of the court to try her, but that the judge misdirected himself by refusing to even deliver a ruling. They said, “When we think of the two little kids of Bilyaminu and Maryam both under two years, all we think of is the doctrine of double jeopardy. we know that in our laws double jeopardy is prohibited. The kids have lost their father in an unfortunate circumstance, should they lose their mother too?”