Until November 2017, not too many people had heard the name Maryam Sanda. The daughter of Maimuna Alliyu, the former Aso Savings boss, she was married to Bilyaminu Haliru-Bello, whose father is reputed to be a former minister, and his uncle, a former PDP National chairman.
Beyond their union making headlines in choice circles, both lived in relative obscurity; parents to a baby girl and going about their daily lives. That seemed to be it. Or it did, until early in the morning of November 18th, 2017.
The events of November 18th, 2017 at the Bello Residence.
Depending on who you’re asking, the events of the morning that eventually led to the death of Bilyaminu were either a freak accident or the deliberate efforts of Maryam Sanda.
Ibrahim’s version of events.
Ibrahim Mohammed, a key witness and friend to the deceased will tell you Sanda is to blame. Having been present at their home hours before Bilyaminu passed, he’d narrate how Maryam Sanda demanded an immediate divorce, attempted to stab Bilyaminu with a knife, and when she was thwarted, tried with a broken bottle of groundnut, and when even that was prevented, wielded a bottle of perfume.
He’ll explain how his friend sustained multiple cuts, wringing the weapons from Sanda’s grasp. All of these before Ibrahim eventually left the home, only to be reunited with his friend in the hospital, a hole near his chest, bite marks on his stomach and stitching on his body. All of which were absent only hours prior.
Maryam Sanda’s version of events.
If you ask Maryam, however, she will deny attacking her husband. Her claim will be that he pushed her to the floor, following an argument over nude pictures found on his phone. She’ll insist a shisha pot broke her fall, the shards of which, ended up piercing Bilyaminu when he slipped on water that spilt from the pot.
Ibrahim will be unable to explain how the blood from the stabbing was cleaned, after all, he wasn’t present in his friend’s home when it occurred. Maryam will claim a housekeeper cleared it when she rushed Bilyaminu to the hospital.
The courts will insist she solicited the help of family members and a maid to clean up the evidence. They’ll let said family members and maid go regardless.
The trial of Maryam Sanda.
What eventually became a three-year back and forth of adjournments, unavailable witnesses and usual court delays began on November 23, 2017, when the police filed murder charges against Sanda. It eventually came to a temporary head on January 27th, 2020, when a high court sentenced her to death by hanging for the murder of her husband – Bilyaminu Haliru Bello.
A total of 6 witnesses were called to the stand, and judgement was given against the accused while relying on the circumstantial evidence of the case. This is because the prosecution was unable to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The loss of Bilyaminu is a tragic, mindless and unnecessary loss, which will only serve to be compounded by the fact that his child — shared with Sanda, may be left to grow in a home without both parents. She will one day learn the unfortunate series of events that led to her being denied the chance to grow under the supervision and love only parents can provide.
Maryam Sanda is expected to appeal the court’s decision.