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Maryam Sanda: Beyond The Court Drama, By Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Apparently, there was a drama today at an Abuja High Court where Maryam Sanda was convicted of murdering her husband Bilyaminu Bello, following a domestic dispute a couple of years ago.

According to reports, she attempted to flee the dock when she was pronounced guilty, and some women took to wailing and shouting, creating a general raucous that the judge had to order one of the women be escorted out of court.

Maryam herself was heard saying, “I was fasting and praying … Ya Allah, why?”


The murder of Bilyaminu Bello was brutal and tragic, and the conviction of Maryam, with the attendant drama (attempts to conceal evidence, granting her bail even while standing trial for murder, pregnancy and birth in custody and now the soap opera around her conviction) is equally tragic. And symptomatic.

Symptomatic of the fact that for the whole day and night she had to contemplate murdering her husband, that perhaps somewhere in her heart there was the conviction that she would get away with it. The same conviction that drove her, and her collaborators, to destroy evidence at the crime scene, to attempt to subvert the investigation and prosecution of the crime.

The fact that against all logic, she was granted bail at some point during a murder trial, was indicative that the machinery she relied on to get her out of this would ordinarily have worked. Except, this wasn’t an ordinary instance. The drama of the murder and the people involved has made this a keenly observed and talked-about trial.

It is also possible that while she was contemplating the murder, that genuinely, she simply did not have the mental capacity to engage with the fact that the consequence of murdering her husband would be the death penalty. Perhaps she was simply too blinded by the red mist in those hours in which she swore to murder her husband before she actually did it to engage with the consequences of the acts she was about to commit.

So when today in court she asks, “Ya Allah, why?” perhaps it is same red mist that is blinding her from the reality of what she had done. What did she expect God to do for her: blind everyone else from the truth of what she did? Let her escape from her crime? Would it have made sense then if someone had answered her and told her the obvious: Because you murdered your husband, Hajiya.”

Apart from the fact that many people commit these crimes and turn to God to rescue them, what this is also symptomatic of is the disconnect she suffers from reality. This may be the consequence of the privileged life she has lived or simply her mental capacity.

The tragedy of all of it is whether she appeals or not, and she will I am certain, and whether a higher court overturns the verdict or not, the lives most affected by this would be those of the children Maryam and Bilyamu have birthed. This is not how they would want to remember their parents. This is not the story they would want to hear of them. And this is certainly not how they would wish to have lost their parents.

For Bilyaminu though, the path to justice has been cleared. For his children, where this path leads is a dreadfully unpleasant place.

Mr Abubakar Ibrahim is an Abuja-based journalist and award-winning writer.

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