By Taiye Agbaje
Following her conviction by an FCT High Court over the alleged killing of her husband, Bilyaminu Bello, Maryam Sanda has approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, asking the court to set aside the verdict and acquit her.
Sanda, who was sentenced to death by hanging by Justice Yusuf Halilu on Jan. 27, said the trial judge “was tainted by bias and prejudices.”
According to her, this led to the denial of her right to fair hearing and her consequent conviction based on circumstantial evidence despite the reasonable doubt that was created by evidence of witnesses, 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.
In a notice of appeal predicated on 20 grounds and filed by her legal team composed of Rickey Tarfa, SAN, Olusegun Jolaawo, SAN, Regina Okotie-Eboh and Beatrice Tarfa, the applicant said the judgment of the trial court was completely “a miscarriage of justice.”
She pointed to the failure of the trial judge to rule, one way or the other, on her preliminary objection, challenging the charge preferred against her and the jurisdiction of the court as evidence of bias and a denial of her right to fair hearing as constitutionally guaranteed.
In her application, she said: “The honourable trial judge erred in law when having taken arguments on the appellant’s preliminary objection to the validity of the charge on the 19th of March, 2018 failed to rule on it at the conclusion of trial or at any other time.
“The trial judge exhibited bias against the defendant in not ruling one way or the other on the said motion challenging his jurisdiction to entertain the charge and therefore fundamentally breached the right to fair hearing of the defendant.”
In ground II, the appellant contended 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.
It was submitted that “the circumstantial evidence which the trial court relied upon in its application of the last seen doctrine does not lead to the conclusion that the defendant is responsible for the death of the deceased.”
Consequently, Sanda prayed the Court of Appeal to allow her appeal, set aside her conviction and sentence imposed by Justice Halilu and acquit her
No date has been fixed for hearing in the matter. (NAN)