An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has refused an application for bail by Maryam Sanda, daughter-in-law of former Peoples Democratic Party chairman.
Mrs. Sanda is facing trial on allegations of culpable homicide for the allegedly killing her husband, Biliyanu Bello, in November.
She is accused alongside her mother, Maimuna Aliyu; her brother Aliyu Sanda; and her house help, Sadiya Aminu. The others were alleged to have conspired with her.
Mrs. Sanda’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu, had asked the court to grant his client bail on the grounds that she (Maryam) had submitted a medical certificate showing that she was in need of health care which could not be provided at the detention facility.
Mr. Daudu cited section 161 (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, which deals with exceptional cases and prayed the court to consider the health condition of the first defendant and her eight month old baby who would require constant motherly care.
In his response to the application, Justice Yusuf Halilu said although the section cited by Mr. Daudu relates to exceptional situation, the case presented in court did not prove to be so exceptional.
The judge further said that although the issue of bail is at the discretion of the court, three factors are most important in deciding the bail of an applicant in court.
“Although Section 36 (5) of the Constitution presumes an accused person innocent. However in circumstances such as this, the judge’s discretion shall be exercised judicially and judiciously.
“The nature of the charge, the evidence before the court and the punishment likely if the suspect is found guilty are the most important ingredients.
“I have gone through the arguments of counsel for the defence and that of the prosecution as well as section 161 (2) of the ACJA relied upon by Daudu with regards to exceptional cases.
“However there must be cogent evidence to show that the sickness the first defendant is suffering from is that which cannot be taken care of within the medical facility. It is not enough to include a medical certificate. Effort must be made to show that the defendant cannot be treated in the medical facility at the detention camp.
“I have seen from where I am which is close to the duck that the first defendant is strong enough. The first defendant who has been inside the duck for over an hour is very strong.
“On the whole I am not favourably disposed to granting the first defendant bail. My discretion in her favour is hereby withheld,” Mr. Halilu said.
The judge however granted the other defendants conditional bail.
“With respect to the other defendants, the offence with which they are charged is a bailable one. The learned counsel submitted that they brought themselves to court this morning. That they would not jump bail.
“The prosecution had submitted that they were granted administrational bail. But when the court prompted further, he said that they should be kept in custody.
“Bail is not meant to punish defendants,” the judge said adding that the three defendants would be granted bail with the following conditions:
“The defendants shall produce two sureties with evidence of residence within the centre of Abuja: they shall deposit their travel documents in court. The two sureties shall deposit documents for their landed properties to the registrar of the court.”
The case was adjourned to February 5, 6 and 7. Maryam and her baby were later driven off to Suleja prison.