Lagos—A Consultant Pathologist, Professor John Obafunwa, yesterday, told a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere that a Nigerian singer, Zainab Nielsen and her three-year-old daughter, Petra, died of head injuries and asphyxia (or suffocation) that were not self-inflicted.

He disclosed this in the twin murder trial of the deceased’s Danish husband, Peter Nielsen, who is alleged to have killed Zainab, 29, and Petra 3, on April 5 at the couple’s Banana Island, Lagos home.


Obafunwa told Justice Mobolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, that the 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.

The witness said evidence showed that she struggled to free herself from her killer’s grip using her hands and nails.

He stated that the result of a DNA analysis of Zainab’s nail clipping revealed the presence of her DNA material and that of “an individual described as Peter”. also suffered bruises around her head which were consistent with “blunt force trauma that was not enough to cause any fracture.”

Nielsen, 53, was arraigned on June 13 on a two-count charge of murder contrary to Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

Lagos Attorney-General (A-G) and Commissioner for Justice, Kazeem Adeniji, told the judge that Nielsen murdered both Zainab and Petra at about 3:45 am at No. 4, Flat 17, Bella Vista Tower, Banana Island Ikoyi.

Nielsen pleaded innocent to the charge.

At the resumed trial yesterday, Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ms Titilayo Shitta-Bey, led Obafunwa in evidence.

Shitta-Bey tendered two compact discs containing pictures of Obafunwa’s autopsy and they were admitted by the court in evidence.

The court also permitted the prosecution to play a video footage to explain Obafunwa’s testimony.

Obafunwa said he performed the autopsy on Zainab and Petra on April 10, four days after they were found dead.

He told the court that he found abrasions on Zainab’s face, typical of nail marks, and abrasions on the inside of her upper and lower lips.

There were also marks underneath her scalp, the surface of the skull bone.

Obafunwa said: “It was all over, not just on one location.”

He explained that toxicology reports ruled out poisoning as the cause of her death.

“Toxicology results showed that nothing – no chemical, alcohol, whatever – was found in her system.

“Nail scrapings, according to the Lagos State DNA Lab, revealed the presence of DNA material composing a mixture of Zainab and another male individual described as Peter. It went on to say Peter cannot be completely excluded.”

He ruled out “a single fall to the ground” as the cause of Zainab’s head injury.

“Blunt force trauma was around the head, all over, not just a fall to one side,” Obafunwa added.

The pathologists’ conclusion for the cause of Petra’s death was similar. He, however, noted that the evidence for blunt force trauma was much more severe in the child than in her mother.

Justice Okikiolu-Ighile adjourned till today for the continuation of trial.



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