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Has husband killer, Maryam Sanda, received Presidential pardon?

There have been reports, especially on social media and Whatsapp broadcast that Maryam Sanda, the woman convicted and sentenced to death by hanging for killing…

There have been reports, especially on social media and Whatsapp broadcast that Maryam Sanda, the woman convicted and sentenced to death by hanging for killing her husband, had been granted a Presidential pardon.

On January 27, an FCT High Court in Maitama sentenced Sanda to death for killing her husband, Bilyaminu Bello.

She has challenged her conviction and sentencing in a notice of appeal filed at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Sanda killed her husband on November 19, 2017, through multiple stabbing.

She was arraigned alongside three other persons, including her mother and brother.

However, the others were discharged because the prosecution was unable to link them to the charges.

The late Bello is a son of a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Haliru Bello.

But the news of her release filtered in on Thursday that President Muhammadu Buhari, who recently granted pardon to five inmates and clemency to another 2,593 prisoners, had pardoned her.

READ: How Maryam Sanda bagged death sentence for husband’s murder

Maryam Sanda still in custody

In a response to Daily Trust’s inquiry, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) said Sanda was still in custody.

A statement by the NCoS spokesperson, Chucks Njoku said: “The attention of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) has been drawn to the news making the rounds that Maryam Sanda was granted presidential pardon last week Thursday April 9th, 2020 alongside some 70 other inmates at the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje.

“The Service wants to categorically state that the news is fake and very unrealistic and an attempt to rubbish the good intention of the President towards decongesting the custodial centres.”

While addressing the press conference last week, the Minister of Interior,  Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had clearly stated the categories of inmates qualified for the amnesty are: Convicts who are Sixty (60) years and above, convicts serving 3 years and above with less than 6 months to serve, inmates with ill-health likely to terminate in death, inmates with mental ill-health and inmates with option of fine not exceeding N50,000 with no pending case.

Others are: Convicted pregnant women, convicted women with child, convicted inmates with minor offences and convicted inmates who spent 75% of their sentence after remission.

Njoku said Sanda did not meet any of the requirements and therefore did not benefit from the Presidential Pardon/Clemency.

“We further want to assure the public that Maryam Sanda is in our custody and will remain as such,” he said, calling on the public to discountenance the rumor that Sanda benefited from the presidential pardon.


Those who were pardoned

Daily Trust however fact-checked the claim to find out that she was not part of those who enjoyed the presidential pardon last week. It was gathered that anyone who committed murder wouldn’t have been part of the programme.

Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had disclosed at a World Press Conference at the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) on Thursday 9th, April, 2020 that Buhari’s gesture is part of the recommendations of 2020 Presidential Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy (PACPM).

He said; “a total number of 2,600 inmates spread across our various custodial centres qualify to benefit from the amnesty. These include 885 convicts who could not pay their fines totalling N21.4 million which the government will pay on their behalf to enable them get their freedom.

“From this number, 41 inmates are federal convicts, two of which have been granted pardon.”

He also said five ex-convicts recommended for presidential pardon have been so pardoned.

“They are late Prof Ambrose Ali, Late Chief Anthony Enahoro, Ex Lt. Col. Moses Effiong, Major E.J. Olanrewaju and Ajayi Olusola Babalola,” Aregbesola added.

Prof Ali was the governor of the old Bendel State in the Second Republic (1978-1983) and a great progressive while Chief Enahoro was a foremost nationalist who moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence.

Aregbesola said the amnesty will not apply to inmates sentenced for violent extreme offences such as terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry, rape, human trafficking, culpable homicide and so on.

“This should put paid to the wild and unfounded speculations and agitations that have been going around on the categories of inmates to benefit,” he added.

He said Buhari also ordered State governors to facilitate the sitting of the State Prerogative of Mercy Committees, in order to recommend deserving cases for release.

Furthermore, Buhari instructed the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to request all Chief Judges of the State High Courts to immediately embark on prison visits to identify and release deserving inmates.

In addition, the CJN is to consider taking steps to ensure the setting up of Special Courts in all states, including the FCT, to try cases of armed robbery, banditry, kidnapping and other serious offences, in order to facilitate their trial.

Speaking at the occasion, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Justice Abubakar Malami, said the government’s action is in line with the advice of the UN which called on countries of the world to reduce the population of prisons so as to encourage social distancing.

Malami said his office would continue to fine-tune the roadmap for the implementation of comprehensive action plan on ensuring an enduring correctional service reform.

“My office will take necessary steps to publish the names of these beneficiaries in the Federal Gazette in line with extant laws and Regulations,’’ he said.

He explained that the process of coming up with the list of beneficiaries commenced in 2018, with the inauguration of the PACPM on August 28, 2018.

According to the CJN, the president’s pardon and clemency to deserving inmates and ex-convict strictly hinged on Section 175 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“In carrying out the assignment, the the committee adopted the use of interviews, observations, consultation and relevant documents called for and received from each of the correctional centres across the country,’’ Malami said.

He explained that the committee visited a number of correctional centres in the six geo-political zones of the country to interact and identify those eligible for the presidential pardon and clemency.

“Upon conclusion of the assignment, a report of the committee, containing the list of beneficiaries considered and recommended for pardon or clemency was submitted for the information and necessary action by the president,’’ the AGF said.

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