Maryam Sanda Biography: Early life, marriage, murder of her husband, trial & death sentence

Maryam Sanda became popular after she reportedly killed her husband, Bilyaminu Bello, was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death. In this article, we provide a full biography of Maryam Sanda. This article will give a well-researched account of who Sanda was and her present circumstances.

Additionally, the post will reveal details about her and answer many of the questions that many people have about Sanda. To give a better reading experience, we have highlighted a list of all the important facts about hera. This list is drawn from the most asked questions about her and it brings all the facts in one place for you to see at once.

10 important facts about Maryam Sanda

  1. Maryam Sanda is said to be the daughter of Maimuna Aliyu, a former executive director of Aso Savings and Loans Plc.
  2. Sanda was the wife of Bilyaminu Bello before his death in 2017.
  3. The couple had a daughter who was six-months-old in November 2017.
  4. She was accused of stabbing her husband to death after a disagreement in the early hours of 18th November 2017.
  5. She claimed that she had hit him with a Shisha bottle and he tripped and fell on it, injuring himself.
  6. Sanda was eventually released on bail in March 2020 after medical reports confirmed that she was pregnant.
  7. Reports claimed that Sanda delivered a male child on 7th August 2018.
  8. Her trial for the alleged murder of her husband began in November 2018.
  9. In January 2020, Judge Yusuf Halilu, of the Federal Capital Territory High Court found Maryam Sanda guilty of killing her husband and sentenced her to death by hanging.
  10. She appealed her death sentence in February 2020 before The Court of Appeal in Abuja affirmed the sentence in December 2020.

Also read: Abiola Ajimobi Biography: Early life, education, political career and death

Maryam Sanda Biography: Early life

We could not find out much about Sanda’s early life. However, from our research, we know she was born into a Muslim family from Northern Nigeria. Sanda grew up in a wealthy and affluent family with strong political connections.

Her mother is alleged to be Maimuna Aliyu, who is a former executive director of Aso Savings and Loans Plc. Aliyu was widely known in 2019 after the ICPC arrested her for alleged fraud and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of about $360,000.

Maryam Sanda is likely well educated but we do not have this information. Thus, we cannot verify it nor can we give details of what educational institutions she obtained degrees from (if she has any).

Maryam Sanda biography: Marriage

Maryam Sanda and Bilyaminu Bello tied the nuptial knot sometime in 2015/2016. We are not sure of the exact date of their wedding. Bilyaminu Bello is also from a family of northern Nigerian elites. He was related to Bello Haliru, a former chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Maryam Sanda Biography: early life, career, marriage and death sentence
Maryam Sanda and her late husband, Bilyaminu Bello

The family was based in Abuja and she allegedly had her first child with Bilyaminu Bello in 2017. Her first child with Bello was a girl and she was just about six months old when tragedy struck the family.

Maryam Sanda ‘murders’ her husband

On 18th November 2017, Maryam Sanda and her husband, Bilyaminu Bello reportedly got into a disagreement, which eventually led to his death. In a report, Sahara Reporters claims that the couple’s dispute had been over infidelity. Many sources say that she had found a nude photo on her late husband’s phone that had led to their quarrel.

However, the details of what led to the conflict took a backseat to the fact that she allegedly killed her husband, leading to a conviction by the Abuja High Court. There were stories that at the time of the incident, she was pregnant, the next section provides more details about this.

Sanda gives birth after Bilyaminu Bello’s death

In August 2018, SaharaReporters claimed that Sanda had delivered a male child on 7th August 2018. This came after she had been arrested and charged for the premeditated murder of her husband, Bilyaminu Bello.

At the time of her initial arrest, she was nursing a female child and her lawyer had tried to secure bail for her on that basis. Her mother and brother who were accused of tampering with evidence have been released on bail during that time.

Maryam allegedly became sick in March 2018 and after the court received medical reports that she was pregnant, she was finally granted bail. Five months later, she later gave birth to a son, according to reports.

The murder trial of Maryam Sanda

In November 2018, witnesses gave accounts of what allegedly transpired around the death of Bilyaminu Bello. According to Premium Times, the laundryman, Mr Abdullahi narrated his version of the event.

Mr Abdullahi’s testimony

Abdullahi says that the incident occurred around 1 to 2 am on 18th November 2017. He had been asleep when he heard late Bilyaminu Bello’s voice. He went to him and met him clutching his shirt to his chest and within minutes, his wife, Maryam Sanda, emerged from the room with a car key.

She requested that he and some unnamed two other individuals aid her to get Bello into the car. That was when he noticed bloodstains on the floor. They first drove him to the closest hospital, Maitama Clinic. However, the doctor directed them to Maitama General Hospital after Sanda refused to tell the doctor at the clinic what had happened.

At the General hospital, Mr Abdullahi testified that Maryam Sanda eventually told the doctor that she and her husband fought. The doctor then confirmed that Bilyaminu Bello had died. He asked her to call relatives and had to get her a phone to do so after she told him that her phone and that of her husband were destroyed during the fight.

The relatives of Bilyaminu came and covered him with Sanda’s veil. It was then that his mother noticed the stab wounds, bite marks, missing fingers and private part. The laundryman ended his testimony by saying that the bloodstain they left at home had been cleaned when they returned.

Maryam Sanda Biography: early life, career, marriage and death sentence
A veiled Maryam Sanda appearing in court, holding a Koran and her child.

Mr Okon’s testimony

Mr Okon was an assistant superintendent of police (ASP) attached to the Maitama Police Station at the time of the incident.

He testified that he had been called at about 03:45 am from the Maitama General Hospital that a lady was there with a lifeless body. He claimed to have met Maryam Sanda and the corpse with a veil over it. Okon then said he took pictures and then handed the corpse over to the mortuary for autopsy.

He also took Sanda to the police station where she voluntarily wrote a statement.

Okon also testified that he visited the scene of the incident with the relatives. He said he found broken bottles on the floor but no bloodstain anywhere. On his return to the police station, he met the deceased’s relatives and they asked for the corpse to bury him according to the Islamic rights.

The police released the corpse for burial and Okon transferred the case to the State’s criminal investigative department (CID) for further investigations. By that time, the mortuary had carried out an autopsy, which the family later said was against their religion.

See also: Son of former PDP chairman stabbed to death by wife

Maryam Sanda’s statement

In Maryam Sanda’s statement, she claimed that she and her husband had a misunderstanding that eventually led to a fight. She further claimed that she hit him with a Shisha bottle.

The Shisha bottle is also known as the Galyan, it is a single or multi-stemmed device that is used to either smoke or vapourise flavoured tobacco.

Maryam additionally wrote in her statement that Bilyaminu Bello had slipped and fallen on the broken bottle. This was how he got injured, according to her statement.

Mr Aliyu’s testimony

Aliyu claimed to have visited Sanda and Bilyaminu Bello’s house on 17th November 2017. He had wanted to watch a football match and had arrived at 2:00 pm and the housemaid had let him in. Aliyu claimed to have been there for over two hours before a friend of Maryam also arrived at the couple’s house.

Then, Bilyaminu Bello and Ibrahim also arrived. Bello said his night prayers around 7:45 pm and then, he and Aliyu left the house at 8:15 pm. However, he returned at 12:00 am, this time with Ibrahim. Aliyu said they were talking about repairing Maryam’s car.

He claimed that someone peeped at them from the kitchen’s window while they were discussing. Then, thinking that it was Bello’s wife, Maryam, he told Bello that he wanted to leave because he didn’t want to disturb their privacy.

Eventually, he left with Ibrahim. Then after he had left, he missed a call from Ibrahim and when he returned the call, Ibrahim informed him that Bilyaminu Bello and Maryam Sanda had fought after he had left the first time at 8:15 pm. He had only replied that if he was aware of the fight, he would have remained in the house.

After the witnesses’ accounts, the prosecution lawyer, Fidelis Ogbebe said he had other witnesses but they were not available. The judge, Yusuf Halilu, then adjourned the matter to 26th November 2018 for the continuation of hearing.

Death sentence

On Monday 27th January 2020, Yusuf Halilu delivered a chilling death sentence on Maryam Sanda that went on for two hours. Halilu, as quoted by Pulse states:

“She should reap what she has sown, for it has been said that ‘thou shall not kill’ and whoever kills in cold blood deserves death as his own reward.

“Convict also clearly deserves to die. Accordingly, I hereby sentence Maryam Sanda to death by hanging until she dies.”

The judgement came after the court ruled that the accused argument of Bilyaminu Bello tripping over a Shisha pot was false. Halilu had queried, “Was the shisha pot broken before or after his death? Why didn’t PW 1 and PW 4 mention a broken pot?

“The broken shisha pot and scattered living room were stage-managed and an affront [on the court]. I am convinced that it was after the death of Bilyaminu.”

Watch a video of her death sentence below:

After the judgement was delivered, Maryam Sanda had attempted to escape through the backdoor of the courtroom. She could not get far as the present personnel of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) recaptured her and eventually took back to prison.

The latest news on Maryam Sanda

Death sentence appeal

After her death sentence at the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maryam Sanda’s legal team appealed the judgement in February 2020. Her appeal legal team was made up of Rickey Tarfa, SAN, Olusegun Jolaawo, SAN, Regina Okotie-Eboh and Beatrice Tarfa.

They claimed that the death sentence for the murder of Bilyaminu Bello was tainted by bias and prejudice. Her appeal, as quoted by PUNCH, reads:

“The honourable trial judge erred in law when having taken arguments on the appellant’s preliminary objection to the validity of the charge on March 19, 2018, failed to rule on it at the conclusion of the trial or at any other time.

“The trial judge exhibited bias against the defendant in not ruling one way or the other on the said motion challenging his jurisdiction to entertain the charge and therefore fundamentally breached the right to a fair hearing of the defendant.”

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Additionally, it says that the judge acted in the capacity of the police by taking up the duty of an investigating police officer. The concluding part of Maryam Sanda’s death sentence appeal says; “the circumstantial evidence which the trial court relied upon in its application of the last seen doctrine does not lead to the conclusion that the defendant is responsible for the death of the deceased.”

Maryam Sanda loses death sentence appeal

On Friday 4th December 2020, The Court of Appeal in Abuja affirmed the conviction and death sentence by hanging that was handed to Sanda. The judgment came 11 months after her team had filed an appeal to revert the lower court judgement.

Justice Stephen Adah, who read the decision on behalf of the three-member panel of justices, held that the trial judge was right in his decision.

“I have gone through the record before the court and I am fully certain that the learned trial court did not engage any investigation outside the evidence before it,” he said.

“The appellant did not point out where the trial judge went out of the scope of his duties to carry out an investigation.”

Stephen Adah further explained that Sanda’s appeal team took the word “investigation” as used by the lower court out of context.

He added that the trial court rightly considered the facts and circumstances of the case before it concrete enough to secure the conviction of the appellant.

“We have no choice also in the face of these convincing situations that the conclusion of the trial court cannot in light of the facts in the face of the records before us be faulted,” Adah said.

He also declared during the hearing: “Having resolved all the issues against the appellant, it is our conclusion that this appeal is lacking in merit and the appeal is hereby dismissed.

“Then that of the trial court delivered on the 27th day of January 2020 is affirmed and also the conviction and sentence handed down by the trial court are also affirmed.”

Latest report on Maryam Sanda

There have been many people asking about the whereabouts of Maryam Sanda. To address rumours and false reports, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NSC) released a statement that she is still in custody. Many false reports had claimed that she was granted Presidential pardon in April 2020 alongside 70 other inmates at the Medium Security Custodial Center, Kuje.

Deputy Controller of Corrections and Public Relations Officer, Austin Njoku said in a statement:

“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 9, 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.”

Also, in May 2020, the Nigerian Police Force had urged the Appeal Court not to waive the death sentence. Daily Post mentioned that Police Counsel, James Idachaba, said that Sanda’s appeal was baseless, frivolous and lacking in merit, praying the Court of Appeal to dismiss it.


Bilyaminu Bello’s death and Maryam Sanda’s death sentence became a high profile criminal case in Nigeria and even other parts of the world. It has been a major talking point since it first surfaced in November 2017.

The developments from the first time the reports were made, to the trial, the court’s judgement and her appeal are intriguing. Many have drawn relationship lessons from the incident as well. These are all the available public details on Maryam.

You may also like to read, Nikko Jenkins biography: death row, Andrea Kruger murder, family and wife.

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About The Author


Obinna is a fiction writer from Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up loving comic book characters and superheroes. He watches lots of action films and writes entertainment and technology articles. He is also interested in science and how things work.

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