Mariam Sanda sentenced to death for killing husband

...The new ugly trend in matrimony
Domestic violence

By Somorin OLUKEMI

It was not always so. Or so we thought. But something clearly troubling seems to be afoot now with the reported upsurge in the rate of homicides related to wives killing their husbands.

In one such celebrated case, on 19th November, 2017, Maryam Sanda stabbed her husband, Bilyaminu, to death. Bilyaminu is the late son of a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). At the close of the trial process, Maryam was sentenced to death by hanging by a high court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) presided by Justice Yusuf Halilu Bello.

As emerged, multiple court testimonies, including that of the accused, indicated that the criminal action was triggered by a heated argument between the couple. In the process, it was reported that Sanda allegedly issued many threats to her husband, including one to chop off his sex organ if he declined to grant her divorce.

On the 27th of January 2020, another incident was recorded when 19-year-old Rabi Shamsudeen, stabbed her 25-year-old husband, Shamsudeen Salisu, to death at Danjanku village, in Malumfashi local government area of Katsina State. The incident was as a result of misunderstanding between the young couple. Neighbours upon hearing the cry of the deceased calling for assistance rushed to their house but were unable to gain access as the front door was locked. Some of them however managed to climb over the wall where they met the deceased crawling out of a room and bleeding from a stomach wound while the wife was standing close by and holding a kitchen knife stained with blood. The deceased was rushed to the hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.

Also around 2:26 am on Thursday February 13, 2020, a tragic incident occurred in Port Harcourt, Rivers State Capital as a Nigerian man identified simply as Daniel was reportedly stabbed to death by his wife. Iyke Chukwu Ikechukwu who shared videos from the scene of the incident, claimed the man never cheated on his wife and only preached ”repentance” to her. According to him, the suspect has since been arrested.

Mr. Nicholas Adetsav (R) and children were killed by his wife (R)

Also in December 2019, another case was reported in the East African nation of Kenya. It emerged when the Kenya Police arrested a 21 year old woman for allegedly stabbing and killing her husband at Gorofa Estate. The woman identified as Ms Mercy Rita Wanjiru allegedly stabbed 23-year-old Kevin Kuria in the chest as he was trying to block her from leaving their house as a result of frequent domestic fights. An argument ensued before a fight broke out, which resulted into stabbing the man to death.

When Business Hallmark sounded him out, Barrister Tayo Alade-Fawole said the major cause of domestic violence cannot be restricted to a particular single factor because it is multidimensional. He listed some major causes of domestic violence based on the outcome of cases that had been treated in the courts of law:

Lack of love: most people these days marry not because they love their partners, but because of many reasons, societal and parental pressures;

Cheating and suspicion: partners suspect each other at the slightest opportunity, and this degenerates into violence when care is not taken;

Upsurge in feminist advocacy: This is an aspect where women feel equal to men with some men seeing this as strange and anti-African. It is also where women will be using expressions like: “I no go gree” and this causes rancor in the family; and

Spiritual dimensions: Some human beings may be possessed by demons such that after committing such crimes of murder, reality sets on them and they are full of regret.

According to him the perpetrators of the evil act have to be adequately punished, because most of them will only come to know the severity of what they have done after they been given death sentences, life imprisonment or various jail terms.

He noted that in this wise, the case of the lawyer that killed her husband in ibadan was an aberration as she was given a short jail term when the initial rap of murder was changed to manslaughter. Overall however, he is satisfied that the judiciary has been up to its billing on this subject.

But where really do these murderous urges emanate from? A psychologist, Justice Tochi Agoha said: “Firstly, I would like to emphasise that ‘domestic violence’ encompasses psychological, physical and sexual aggression within the context of a significant interpersonal relationship (e.g, family, marriage, dating).

The most immediate directly observable cause of domestic violence can be seen where there is anger, frustration and irritation. However, this is only the icing of the cake as there are other underlying factors such as the individual’s personal background, particularly the nature of his/her past experience in terms of the toxic level of previous family, marital/romantic or even peer relationships which can be a building bridge for domestic violence now seen.”

Indeed, given that psychologists believe that behaviour is largely learnt, as a result, individuals, they now reason, perpetrate domestic violence not necessarily because they are angry rather because they have over time directly or indirectly learnt to express their displeasure in such a manner. Infact these expressions can remain as just thoughts until the opportunity comes. Sometimes it begins with physically or psychologically abusing (punching, kicking, slapping or even yelling at, or threatening) your sibling or even intimate friend in the name of “I am angry”.

As they further explore, while it is true that every human being is prone to getting angry, but it is the way and manner in which this displeasure is expressed that changes the narration.

The extreme cases of women stabbing their husbands to death can be argued as self-defense but that still doesn’t change the fact that it could have been otherwise.

In particular, Agoha also outlined the psychological effects on the victim (mostly women), namely:

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder characterized by exposure to a traumatic experience or series of traumatic events.


A damaged self esteem

Probability of engaging in risky behaviour such as substance use and abuse, extra marital affairs, excessive clubbing, etc, andSuicidal ideation and other serious psychological disorders

He further advised that before things get so bad as to result in stabbing, the other partner (that is anyone experiencing domestic violence) should consider safety first, and over and above issues related to the future of the relationship

Appreciating that this can indeed be a very complex scenario, considering the individual’s cultural and religious context, Agoha notes then that all things considered, the choice of what to do however remains the victim’s discretion. But then he lists some possible ways out:

1. Immediately notify significant others.

2. Seek help from relevant institutions, agencies, psychologists and counselors.

3. In case of the possibility of physical harm, consider temporarily leaving the house/relationship for safety purposes.

Agoha does not also leave out the abuser and equally lists some steps that can be taken by him/her:

Anger impairs your ability to make sound judgment often causing regrets after on. You would do what you’d not originally have done so…

Avoid talking of, and taking drastic actions. Simply excuse yourself politely and seek help from a psychologist, counselor or relevant other.

Do you think you have the tendency (male or female) to be psychologically, physically or sexually aggressive towards your spouse, siblings or intimate friend, then it is strongly advised that you reach out to a psychologist for help beforehand.

On her part, a female minister in the redeemed Christian Church of God, Deaconess Ebun Ajibare said that part of the problem as it relates to abusive relations involving Christians was that they have simply ignored simple and basic truths about marriage. Firstly, she avers that the Bible says ‘if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? Along this line, she thinks there is indeed a challenge when people ignore God in their decision on who to marry? Even when they know that a fellow is not fit to type, provided he is handsome and rich, they are ready to marry him even when the bible says ‘what has Belial got to do with Christ?’

A second point she emphasised has to do with sin and the devil. In her view, sin has eaten deep into the lives of people and now pervades the entire society. She laments that even sin has taken so much hold in our churches and has almost become the ruler of the day. ‘When you say this is what the word of God says, people are not ready to listen to it.’

As an antidote, she says: ‘people should return to God, he is the one that instituted marriage and only him can keep any marriage.’