A former executive director of Aso Savings and Loans Maimuna Aliyu, her son Aliyu Sanda, and another lady were yesterday charged by the FCT Police Command for alleged concealment of evidence at the crime scene of the suspected murder of their son-in-law, Bilyamin Bello, by her daughter Maryam Sanda.
This was contained in an amended charge filed by the police at the resumed hearing of the murder case holding at the FCT High Court Abuja.
Maryam is standing trial over the alleged murder of her husband, Bilyamin, the son of the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Bello Halliru Mohammed.
In count one of the amended charge, the police alleged that Maryam had caused the death of her husband, Bilyamin Bello, “by stabbing him on the chest and other parts of the body with a knife and other dangerous weapons which eventually led to his death.”
The second count charge states that her mother Maimuna, her brother Aliyu, as well as one Sadiya Aminu, with the knowledge that a murder has been committed, “cause evidence of the offence to disappear.”
The police alleged that the trio cleaned the blood from the crime scene with the intention of screening Maryam from legal punishment.
Several reports in the media had said the CCTV footage recovered from the residence of the deceased had revealed Maimuna as one of the people that entered the house after Maryam had rushed the deceased to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Maimuna is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over fraud allegations committed during her stint at the Aso Savings and Loans.
Maryam hires Daudu, sent back to prison
At the resumed hearing yesterday, Police Prosecutor, CSP James Idachaba, told the court that all efforts to serve the amended charge on Maimuna and the others have proved abortive.
He said the ICPC had also been having challenges bringing Maimuna to court for arraignment in a case of fraud filed against her.
He, therefore, pleaded with the court to allow the prosecution to continue with the trial of Maryam based on the count one of the charge where she was the only one mentioned.
But the trial judge, Justice Yusuf Halilu said he wants everything to be done properly before coming to court.
“You must be very serious and show commitment to what you are doing. Make extra efforts to serve the other defendants. I want to have all of them together before me so they can take their pleas together,” the judge said.
The prosecutor thereby asked the court to adjourn the matter to Thursday, December 14 to enable the police to bring all the defendants to court so they can take their pleas together.
Maryam’s new lawyer, Joseph Daudu (SAN), a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), however, applied to the court to hear the bail application filed on Maryam’s behalf since it was already before the court.
However, Justice Halilu ruled in favour of the prosecutor and said the bail would be taken after the re-arraignment.
Not satisfied with this, Daudu pleaded with the court, this time orally, to release Maryam on bail pending Thursday when fresh pleas would be taken.
He said the prison condition was unwholesome for Maryam’s six-month-old baby.
“It is unfortunate that a life has been lost already, but we should not take more lives,” the counsel said.
However, after another objection by the police prosecutor, Justice Halilu held that he was not disposed to grant the oral bail application since issues have been joined on the formal application for bail.
“The defendant in the main time shall be returned to the prison pending Thursday, December 14,” judge ruled.
Bilyamin’s family sends lawyers to observe proceedings
Daily Trust observed that Maryam was represented at her first appearance by lawyers from the chambers of Ricky Tarfa (SAN) & Co and one of the lawyers confirmed to our reporter that the chamber is still involved in the trial even as Daudu has been brought in.
While Daudu only announced five lawyers as part of those with him in line with the new directive of the Supreme Court, it was observed that lawyers in the defence team were over 10.
Apart from the police and Maryam’s counsels, the family of the deceased also made an appearance in the trial just as they did during her arraignment on November 24.
Two lawyers announced appearance yesterday to be observing the proceeding on behalf of the nominal complainant.
Earlier, the judge had ordered that Maryam’s daughter in the custody of a relative, be taken out of court after the baby’s persistent crying.
The baby continued crying outside the courtroom throughout the proceedings.
Maryam had approached the dock with the baby before she was signaled by her lawyers to hand over the baby to a relative.
Daily Trust reports that during her earlier arraignment, the judge ordered her to drop the baby with someone else since the baby was not on trial when she attempted to enter the dock with the baby.
With her face still hidden behind a veil, the judge ordered her to make her face visible to the court, saying “I have to be sure of who is standing trial before me.”
It was observed that the courtroom was filled to capacity with as many more people standing both inside and outside the courtroom.
Several protesters were also noticed at the entrance of the courtroom carrying placards with #NoToViolenceAgainstMen inscription.