By Donu Kogbara
Maryam Sanda is the most notorious and controversial woman in Nigeria at the moment.
Until November 2017, she was just one of many well-connected young women who uneventfully populate the Federal Capital Territory.
The daughter of Maimuna Alliyu, a onetime Aso Savings CEO, she had married Bilyaminu Haliru-Bello, an equally well-connected young man whose father was a political bigwig.
Until just over two years ago, the only remarkable thing about this couple was the fact that they came from fairly prominent families.
Then disaster struck on November 18, 2017 when Bilyaminu died as a result of multiple injuries caused by at least one sharp object.
Maryam claimed that he was the victim of a freak accident that occurred during an argument about his alleged infidelity that got physical.
Ibrahim Mohammed, a key witness and friend of the deceased, said that Maryam had tried to kill Bilyaminu just hours before in his presence…and that she had been so blindly enraged that she’d had to be restrained several times…and that she must have deliberately stabbed the life out of Bilyaminu after he left them alone together.
The judge surveyed the evidence, agreed with Ibrahim and sentenced Maryam to death by hanging for premeditated murder.
“Good! She deserves it! An eye for an eye!” was probably the most widespread and commonplace reaction from the general public.
But Maryam also has supporters, some of whom are very vocal and absolutely convinced, for various reasons, that she should be spared the noose.
Some are pleading with the authorities for clemency on her behalf because she has a small child; and this tranche of supporters feel that it will be too hard on a child who has already lost its father to also lose its mother.
Others, meanwhile, feel that Maryam should serve a life sentence instead because hers was a crime of passion…in the sense that it was motivated by intense romantic disappointment and sexual jealousy, painful emotions that some feel can temporarily drive anyone mad.
Then there are those (including me) who simply do not believe that the death penalty can ever be morally justified, no matter how vile the crime or unappealing the criminal.
I must confess that, despite being a lifelong opponent of capital punishment, when I researched Maryam’s background and the details supplied during the court case, I concluded that she’s of bad character and I was sorely tempted to join the “hang her!” brigade.
But I’ve – albeit grudgingly – reverted to my normal liberal stance. And I hope that President Muhammadu Buhari will be kind enough to pardon her…but NOT because she has a child.
After all, a mother who possesses relentlessly violent tendencies is not a suitable child-rearer. And if I were Bilyaminu’s relatives, I would insist that Maryam be deprived of custody and unsupervised contact with his child, even if she is eventually released.
I also don’t buy the crime of passion sentimentality that lets people off the hook for assassinating their cheating spouses. As far as I’m concerned, if your husband or wife annoys or injures you, you should get the hell out of the marriage before you fatally lose your temper!
My ONLY reason for praying that Mr President listens to those who are begging him to pardon this girl is that state-sanctioned executions boil down to murder and are too brutal and uncivilized.
I recently wrote about Operation Amotekun, the South Western governors’ response to rising insecurity in their region.
This initiative has generated controversy, especially since the Federal Attorney-General, Alhaji Malami, has expressed the view that it is illegal.
But this local militia thing is an idea whose time has come; and while other geopolitical zones are preparing to copy the Amotekun model, here is what a Vanguard reader, who is based in America, has to say:I was so proud to be Yoruba when I read about the Amotekun issue. I felt Oduduwa and all the Yoruba ancestors rising and it felt more like who Yoruba people are. A primary function of the state and governance is protection of life and property and if government cannot do that then it is essentially a failed state.
By five years ago, in discussing about taking people to Nigeria, we concluded that the only part of the country you can safely take people is the South-West: land in Lagos and move around. Every other region was too risky and now they want to take that away from the South-West! How can you have progress without security? It is impossible.
The central government has essentially given up on protecting life and property…the existing Police Force is useless and has been corrupted to the point where it cannot protect citizens; and it needs to be decommissioned and a new Police Force put in place.
Supreme Court and Imo State
I recently criticized PDP legislators who unceremoniously decamped to APC as soon as the Supreme Court replaced the PDP Governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, with Hope Uzodinma of APC.
A Vanguard reader shares my disapproval:
Well done for your beautiful piece. On the issue of carpet-crossing, it is very sad that our democracy has not been allowed to grow and mature by our greedy and selfish politicians using carpet-crossing as one of their tools. It should be discouraged no matter the reasons. I am even suggesting that once an office holder decamps his/her party should be asked to bring another person to take that seat.