Maryam Sanda: Why are Nigerian Courts still issuing death penalties? – Nkem Ndem

Maryam Sanda: Why are Nigerian Courts still issuing death penalties? – Nkem Ndem



The case of Maryam Sanda aptly sets the tone for this piece.



I got a notification on my phone and when I clicked on the link; I was redirected to a post on a blog about a 19-year-old housewife, Rabi Shamsudeen; who had just been arrested for allegedly stabbing her husband to death at Danjaku village; in the Malumfashi Local Government Area of Katsina State.



Apparently, the incident happened early Monday morning. Normally I would just heave a sigh, read comments and move on. But I found myself going on further on the reason behind the incident; especially since it was happening just hours after Maryam Sanda who was accused of killing her husband; was sentenced to death by hanging.


In case you haven’t been keeping up with the Maryam Sanda case; she was charged with culpable homicide in November 2017. This was after available evidence proved that she stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife with intent to ‘‘kill”.



Maryam Sanda: Why are Nigerian Courts still issuing death penalties? - Nkem Ndem




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Apparently, trouble had started after Maryam Sanda discovered nude pictures of another woman in her late husband’s phone.


Thereafter, she had confronted him, asking for a divorce. Sadly, the arguments which continued late into the night snowballed into a fight and eventually the death of Bilyaminu; her late husband and son of former National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Haliru Bello.



Unfortunately, while the defence lawyer faulted the prosecution over its failure to adduce some vital evidence; including the knife the defendant allegedly used to commit the murder, Sanda was still charged with death by hanging.



However, in this recent case; investigation is still going on as the only evidence recorded so far is an eye account of a neighbor; who saw the accused holding a sharp knife covered in blood at the spot of the murder. Will she also be found guilty? Will she also be sentenced to death by hanging?



Perhaps it was a case of self-defense…or was she just another victim of a toxic marriage? Is this slowly becoming the new norm for Nigerian women who, otherwise, cannot escape the toxicity of their marriage?


As I was going through the thread of articles related to both incidents; I found a rather unusual comment by a Nigerian doctor identified as Anenya Ushakuma Michael.


In his eccentric post, he said: ‘‘I know my wife will never kill me. But if for any reason this happens, let her be allowed to live and take care of my children. This is me Dr Anenga Ushakuma Michael writing this; and I want this tweet to be admissible in court as evidence



Mad oh!



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Maryam Sanda: Why are Nigerian Courts still issuing death penalties? - Nkem Ndem



Of course, different people had different opinion on the man’s post. However, one particular comment stood out. The comment, referring to the man said: “Your statement doesn’t apply to the constitution of Nigeria. He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword ?”


It quickly resonated as the Judge who had sentenced Sanda to death; had based his conviction on Section 221 of the Penal Code, also saying; “It has been said that thou shall not kill. Whoever kills in cold blood shall die in cold blood.


Maryam Sanda should reap what she has sown, “it is blood for blood“.


Why is the death penalty still a thing in Nigeria though? How is it that in the almost 60 years that a free Nigeria has existed; no one has deemed it worthy to challenge the notion of “an eye for an eye” in the court of law?


In my opinion, there is no way to even remotely justify the idea of capital punishment; even for the most heinous crimes as it is a cruel and unusual punishment.

All executions violate the right to life.


It should be suspended for practical reasons; such as the fact that it is costly and sometimes unfairly administered.



Maryam Sanda: Why are Nigerian Courts still issuing death penalties? - Nkem Ndem




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The death penalty is irreversible. Absolute judgments may lead to people paying for crimes they did not commit. Again, there is no credible evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than a prison term. Case in point is the very exact scenario being repeated by a 19-year-old woman; just hours after the death penalty is issued to Sanda.



Think about it. In an imperfect world where we can never be sure we have ever got the right culprit; is it ever justified to take a life?

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