Witness Stalls Trial Of Danish Citizen Who ‘Murdered’ Nigerian Wife, Daughter

A Lagos High Court in Igbosere on Monday adjourned the twin-murder trial of a Dane, Peter Schau Nielsen, till April 3, following the prosecution’s inability to present its final witness.

Deputy Director of Prosecution, Dr. Jide Martins, told Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, that the witness, Dr. Somairi, was not available.

Nielsen, aged 53, is standing trial following the death of his Nigerian singer wife, Zainab Nielsen, and their three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Petra. He was charged with the killings last June 13, on two counts of murder contrary to Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

Five people were allegedly in the apartment on the night of the incident: Nielsen, Zainab, Petra, Gift and Favour Madaki, both of whom are Zainab’s step-sisters. The government accused Nielsen of beating and smothering Zainab and Petra to death at about 3:45am at No. 4, Flat 17, Bella Vista Tower, Banana Island, Ikoyi.

Nielsen denied the charge.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Monday, Dr. Martins explained Dr. Somairi’s absence. He said last Friday during a pre-trial meeting with the witness, it was discovered that there were other essential information required by the prosecution which were not before the court.

Martins said: “My Lord, the matter for today is for continuation of trial, but, unfortunately, Dr. Somairi, who is our last witness, is not in court. We were in a pre-trial meeting on Friday and we realised that there are other information that is very essential and that information is not before the court. We hope that by Wednesday, the information would be ready and we would serve same on the court and the Defence. Our application is for the court to vacate Tuesday and Friday. He is a vital witness, whose testimony will help the court.”

However, Justice Okikiolu-Ighile was not pleased.

“Learned Deputy Director, today is wasted, tomorrow is wasted, Friday is wasted. You have disorganised my list,” the judge said.

Defence counsel Olasupo Shasore (SAN) also expressed displeasure at the development. The former Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice suggested that it was about time courts began awarding costs against the state, when it foists unplanned adjournments on parties, if the laws can be so amended.

“We are not in a position to oppose the state’s application. But with an Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of over N30billion a month, the state is healthy enough to start paying costs,” Shasore told the judge.

After listening to the submissions of both parties, Justice Okikiolu-Ighile adjourned till April 3 for continuation of trial.

At the last hearing  on February 20, Gafaru Oderinde, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), told the court, among others, that Nielsen was billed to travel abroad six days after the incident occurred. Oderinde said the defendant had already bought a flight ticket and he was billed to travel abroad on April 11, 2018.

When, during cross examination, Shasore enquired if he investigated any other person apart from Nielsen, Oderinde said no.

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