Posted by News Express | 21 February 2020 | 715 times
By GODWIN TSA, Abuja
Maryam Sanda who was sentenced to death for killing her husband, by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bilyaminu Bello has asked the Court of Appeal to void and set aside the death sentence pronounced on her.
She was sentenced to death by hanging last month by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the Maitama division of the court.
In the appeal against the death sentence, the convict claimed that the trial judge was tainted by bias and prejudices leading to her denial of right to a fair hearing and consequent conviction.
She averred that the conviction was based on circumstantial evidence despite the reasonable doubt created by evidence of witnesses, lack of confessional statement, absence of murder weapon, lack of corroboration of evidence by two witnesses and lack of autopsy report to determine the true cause of her husband’s death.
In the notice of appeal predicated on 20 grounds and filed by her counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN), Maryam Sanda said the judgment of the trial court was completely “a miscarriage of justice.”
She pointed to the failure of the trial judge to rule 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.
The appellant submitted that “the trial judge erred in law when having taken arguments on her 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.
According to her legal team, “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 2, 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).
In the said page, Justice Halilu had said: “I wish to state that I have a duty thrust upon me to investigate and discover what will satisfy the interest and demands of justice.”
The appellant submitted that the wrongful assumption of the role of an IPO made “the trial judge fail to restrict himself to the evidence adduced before the court” and instead went fishing for evidence outside those that were brought before the court.
She insisted that while “the duty of investigation is the constitutional preserve of the police, “the constitutional duty of a trial court is to assess the credible evidence before it and reach a decision based on its assessment.”
The convict argued that “the court’s usurpation of the duty of the police by taking it upon itself to investigate and discover, negatively coloured its assessment of the available evidence and resulted in it reaching an unjust decision contrary to the evidence before it.”
In ground 5, the appellant argued that “the trial judge erred in law and misdirected himself on the facts when he applied the doctrine of last seen and held that the appellant was the person last seen with the deceased and thus bore the full responsibility for the death of the deceased, and thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice.”
According to the particulars of error in support of ground 5, “there is no evidence before the trial judge that the defendant was the last person who saw the deceased alive” since prosecution witness in his evidence before the trial judge stated that he was called by the deceased, he saw the deceased and asked the deceased what was the problem.”
She added that the statement of Sadiya Aminu, tendered before the trial court (who was initially charged as 4th defendant in the amended charge) also confirmed that the deceased was alive though injured when she saw him.
It was averred 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, she prayed the Court of Appeal to allow her appeal, set aside her conviction and the sentence imposed by the High Court judge and acquit her. (The Sun)
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