Nigeria’s Judiciary

By Onozure Dania

A Lagos High Court sitting at Tarfa Balewa Square, (TBS), Tuesday reserved May 6, 2022, for the judgment of a Danish man, Peter Nielsen, accused of killing his Nigerian wife and daughter.

Justice Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, fixed the date after listening to the submissions and adopting the final written addresses of the prosecution and the defence.

Nielsen, 54, is standing trial on a two-count charge of murder.

The defendant was accused of an April 5, 2018 death of his Nigerian singer wife, Zainab and their three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Petra.

At the resumed hearing of the matter Tuesday, the defence counsel Mr Olasupo Shasore, SAN, in his final written address, asked the court to discharge and acquit the defendant Peter Nielsen, of the murder charge.

He raised two issues which he said relate to the constitutional rights of the defendant’s fair hearing and referred to the address of the prosecution, in paragraphs 4.31 up to 4.33 and pages 46 to 47,(The nightgown the deceased wore the night she was killed).

Shasore said that the defence’s concern is the defendant’s fair trial on Section 36 (6), b and D, the access to the nightgown which was expunged.

The learned silk, cited the ruling of the court of July 19, 2021, where the judge
dismissed an application seeking to discharge Peter Nielsen, accused of killing his Nigerian wife and daughter, from the murder trial.

Shasore, SAN, had filed an application for the production of exhibit PWN (the nightgown the deceased wore the night she was killed) to be produced for DNA testing.

He had prayed the court to allow the defendant to go home on the basis that a relevant exhibit tendered before the court was missing, therefore, substantial justice would not be done in the absence of the exhibit.

Justice Okikiolu-Ighile, had ruled that the submission of the learned silk was premature, though very brilliant.

Okikiolu-Ighile, held that both prosecution and defence had called several witnesses and tendered several exhibits which were not premised on the said exhibit.

“Therefore, at the end of the proceedings, when all the evidence has been given and final written addresses adopted, the court will then evaluate the totality of all the evidence before it.

“The submission of the learned silk is premature, the application sought and the consequential relief are hereby dismissed,” the judge held.

Shasore SAN, had filed an application seeking an order of the court for a relief to allow the defence carry out a DNA analysis examination relied upon by the prosecution.

He also urged the court for an order directing the court’s registrar to produce exhibit PWN (the night gown the deceased wore the night she was killed).

Shasore said he had applied for search on the court’s record but was told that exhibit PWN could not be found due to the burning of the court on October 21, 2020, during the #ENDSARS saga.

He, stated that by virtue of Section 36 of the constitution, the constitutional rights of the defendant has been violated.

“When we made our application, we did not know that exhibit PWN would not be found. In the absence of exhibit PWN, it means that the defendant’s constitutional rights has been violated. Also that the court itself has been deprived of the opportunity to evaluate PWN,” he said.

“This is the night gown the deceased was wearing at the time of her death and the DNA analysis was derived from it. The expert witness called by the prosecution, in his testimony, based his entire evidence on PWN,” Shasore said.

The silk to told the court that Section 262 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State, empowered the court to adopt all measures to enable it do substantial justice to the case.

He further stated that, in the interest of substantial justice, exhibit PWN must be produced, substantial justice will not be done if exhibit PWN is not produced.

“I submit that your Lordship should make an order that the defendant must be discharged on the grounds that this charge can not be tried in accordance with the constitution,” Shasore said.

On the second issue raised by the defence counsel, he said its a very crucial point, the assumption that there was an eye witness.

He said ” We submit that there was no eye witness, the so called eye witness said she was behind the children’s door, being behind the children’s door to see the Master’s bedroom, is practically impossible.

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” The position of the door, there is no eye witness the pictorial presentation and evidence of the main entrance door, shows a force entering and damage to the door.

” We urge your Lordship to consider all the defence, submissions on all the evidence collected by the state and was not produced, the DNA testing it collected and were not produced.

” We have a reasonable doubt in favour of the defendant’s innocence, on the evidence that was not produced otherwise in the interest of fair trial.

“I urge court to uphold, our argument that after four years in detention, your Lordship should acquit and discharge the defendant so that he can properly morn his wife and daughter,”.

Earlier Shasore, apologized to the court over late filing and serving of the defence final written address on March 1, 2022.

He said ” I apologize for late filing, we filed our reply this morning, we did everything we could yesterday to file but couldn’t.

” Our final written address is dated March 1, 2022, and filed on the same day March 1, 2022, containing the final arguments, we seek and humbly adopt the arguments as contained in the written address”.

“We urge the court to favourably, consider our argument and the defendant be discharged and acquitted,” the SAN said.

In his response, Mr Adebayo Haroun, Lagos State Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, said the prosecution’s final written address was dated February 18 and filed February 21, 2022.

He prayed the court to adopt their submission and arguments and relied on all the authorities cited.

Haroun said ” We have replied to all the issues raised by the defence, including the two points raised by the learned senior counsel, the eye witness PW6 and the circumstantial evidence placed before your Lordship.

” The prosecution has been able to prove its case without reasonable doubt that Peter Nielsen, murdered Zainab Nielsen and Petra Nielsen, on April 5, 2018. My lord we do not have anything to add to the final written address, we urge your Lordship to convict the defendant as charged,” he said.

Consequently, justice Okikiolu-Ighile, reserved judgment till May 6, 2022 and ordered that the defendant should be further remanded at the Ikoyi prisons.

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