6th May, 2022
By Akin Kuponiyi
A Lagos High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square has adjourned till May 20, 2022 for judgment, on the case of a Danish man, Peter Nielsen, who is alleged to have killed his Nigerian wife Zainab and three-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
The presiding Judge, Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile was supposed to deliver the judgment today (Friday).
However, court officials told the parties that the judgment was not ready.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile had fixed May 6 for judgment after proceedings on March 1, 2022, when the parties adopted their final written addresses after their submissions.
Kogi State-born Zainab, alias Alizee, was a singer signed to an Asian record label, Petra Entertainment, and was in the course of promoting her January 2018 single, ‘Alhaji Musa’, before the alleged murder.
The Lagos State Government accused Nielsen, now 57, of smothering her and their daughter to death at about 3:45am, on April 5, 2018, at No. 4, Flat 17, Bella Vista Tower, Banana Island, Ikoyi.
Nielsen was arraigned on June 13, 2018, on a two-count charge of murder under Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
He pleaded not guilty, following which trial commenced.
During the trial, the court was told that Zainab and Petra died of head injuries and asphyxia (or suffocation) that were not self-inflicted.
A Consultant Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, in his evidence before the court said that his post-mortem examination of Zainab’s corpse suggested that she was killed when her nose and mouth were forcibly closed which deprived her of oxygen.
He said she had also suffered bruises around her head which were consistent with “blunt force trauma that were not enough to cause any fracture.”
Obafunwa said evidence showed the deceased struggled to free herself from her killer’s grip using her hands and nails.
The result of a DNA analysis of Zainab’s nail clipping, he added, revealed the presence of her DNA material and that of “an individual described as Peter.”
On September 20, 2019, the prosecution team led by Ms. Titilayo Shitta Bey (now Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice) concluded their case.
Rather than open his defence, Nielsen argued that the prosecution had failed to link him with the alleged deaths, noting in particular that a particularly important prosecution exhibit was missing.
Consequently, he filed a “no case” submission, praying the court to end the proceedings and set him free.
However, on July 19, 2021, the defendant lost his bid to regain freedom.
Justice Okikiolu-Ighile dismissed the Danish’s application seeking to be discharged from the double murder charge.
The judge noted that the application, filed by Nielsen’s counsel, Mr Olasupo Shasore (SAN), was brilliant, but premature.
She held that both prosecution and defence had called witnesses and tendered exhibits which were not premised on the said exhibit.
The Dane had premised his application on a missing piece of critical evidence said to have been destroyed during the burning down of the Igbosere High Court last October.
Shasore urged the court to discharge the defendant on the basis that the exhibit – Nielsen’s late wife’s nightgown containing DNA evidence – was missing.
According to Shasore, the nightgown the woman wore the night she was killed could no longer be found in the court’s record due to the burning of the court by hoodlums who hijacked the October 2020 #EndSARS protest.
He submitted that substantial justice could not be done in the absence of the exhibit.
“The submission of the learned silk is premature, the application sought and the consequential relief are hereby dismissed,” the judge declared.
The judge ordered Nielsen to open his defence.
In his defence, Nielsen affirmed his testimony that he did not kill both Zainab and Petra.
He told the court on January 11 that he found the duo dead when he awoke from sleep that morning and tried to revive them.
“I remember that Thursday, 5th of April, 2018 was an Easter vacation day. When I woke up, I was looking for Zainab and Petra from the balcony overlooking the field in the Estate,” Peter added.