Crime and Metro

Maryam Sanda’s long road to death sentence


On Monday, Maryam Sanda was convicted of the murder of her husband, Bilyaminu Bello.

She was sentenced to death by hanging by the Federal Capital Territory High Court, over two years after she was first arraigned by the Nigerian police.

Ms Sanda stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife with a clear intent to kill, Justice Yusuf Halilu said in the judgment on a two-count homicide charge brought by the police against Ms Sanda in November 2017.

The prosecution had asked for the death penalty. The judge obliged by sentencing the convict to death by hanging.

The convict can still appeal her conviction under the nation’s laws.

The victim was the son of a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Haliru Bello.

Lurid details of the homicide case which builds on the rising trend of domestic violence in Nigeria have grabbed public imagination since it began three years ago – inspiring screaming headlines.

Ms Sanda’s trial has been dramatic and has dragged on due to delays, multiple adjournments, failure of witnesses to appear in court among other technicalities until Monday’s judgment.


Here is a timeline of her trial since she was arraigned in November 2017 culminating in her conviction on Monday.

November, 23, 2017 – The police file murder charges against Ms Sanda.

November, 24, 2917 – court sends the accused to prison denies her bail application.

December, 7, 2017 – The court again refuses an oral application for her bail and ordered her to be returned to prison pending her re-arraignment on December 14.

December, 14, 2017 – the court again refuses and dismisses her bail but granted bail to her three co-defendants.

February, 7, 2018 – The court again strikes out another bail application made on her behalf.

March 7, 2018 – Sanda granted bail on health grounds.

March 19, 2018 – A prosecution witness in the trial disappears after arriving in court.

April 19, 2018 – Witness narrates how Maryam Sanda allegedly made several attempts to stab her husband before his eventual murder.

May 15, 2018 – Sanda’s trial stalled.

October 3, 2018 – The lawyer representing Sanda withdraws from the trial.

January 23, 2019 – Sanda, reveals in a statement that nude pictures on her husband’s phone led to the fight that eventually led to his killing.

February 27, 2019 – Court fixes date for the final address.

March 26, 2019 – Court fixes date to rule on no-case submission filed by the accused.

April 4, 2019 – You have a case to answer, court tells Sanda.

October 8, 2019 – Sanda to open defence on October 16.

December 2, 2019 – Court to deliver final judgement on January 27, 2020.

January 26, 2020 – PREMIUM TIMES reports how Maryam Sanda’s fate will be decided on Monday.

January 27, 2020 – Maryam Sanda found guilty, sentenced to death by hanging.

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