A Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, on Friday, adjourned until May 20, to deliver judgment in the case of a Danish, Peter Nielsen, accused of killing his Nigerian wife and daughter.
Nielsen, 54, is standing trial on a two-count charge of murder.
The defendant is accused of killing his wife and singer, Zainab, and their three-year-old daughter, Petra.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile had on March 1, after adoption of final written address by both prosecution and defence, reserved judgment for Friday (May 6).
However, on Friday, the court did not sit but the court registrar communicated the new date, saying that the judgment was not ready.
NAN reports that at the last adjourned date, defence counsel, Mr Olasupo Shasore (SAN), while adopting his final address, asked the court to discharge and acquit the defendant of the charge.
Shasore based his submissions on two issues which, he said, were related to the constitutional rights of the defendant.
He said that the first was the defendant’s fair hearing and the second, an eyewitness account.
Shasore referred the court to paragraphs 4.31 to 4.33 and pages 46 and 47 of the prosecution’s address, which had to do with the night gown Zainab wore the night she was allegedly killed.
He said that defence was concerned with the defendant’s fair trial as provided for in Section 36 (6) (B) and (D) of the 1999 Constitution.
He cited the ruling of the court on July 19, 2021, where the judge dismissed an application seeking to discharge Nielsen of the murder charge.
He said that he had filed an application for production of the night gown for DNA testing.
The senior advocate of Nigeria said that he had applied for a search on the court’s record, but was told that the gown (Exhibit PWN) could not be found due to the burning of the court on Oct. 21, 2020, during the #EndSARS protest.
He said that by virtue of Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, a right of the defendant had been violated.
Shasore said that the night gown was what the deceased wore at the time of her death, and that DNA analysis was derived from it.
He argued that an expert witness called by prosecution based his entire evidence on the DNA from the night gown.
The SAN said substantial justice would not be done if Exhibit PWN was not produced.
NAN reports that on July 19, 2021, Justice Okikiolu-Ighile had ruled that the submission of the defence counsel was premature, though brilliant.
Okikiolu-Ighile had held that both prosecution and defence had called several witnesses and tendered several exhibits, which were not premised only on the said exhibit.
She, therefore, held that at the end of the proceedings, when all the evidence had been given and final written addresses adopted, the court would evaluate the totality of all the evidence before it.
Shasore added that the assumption that there was an eyewitness was crucial.
He argued that there was no eyewitness to the alleged murder.
According to him, the person who testified as an eyewitness said she was behind the children’s door.
The learned silk said that from the position of the door, it was impossible to see the master’s bedroom from the children’s door.
According to him, the pictorial presentation of the main entrance door of the defendant’s residence
shows a forceful entering and damage to the door.
He, therefore, urged the court to uphold his argument, adding that after four years in detention, the court should discharge and acquit the defendant, so that he could properly mourn his wife and daughter.
In his response, Mr Adebayo Haroun, Lagos State Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, prayed the court to adopt prosecution’s submission and arguments.
Haroun said that prosecution had replied to all the issues raised by defence, including the two points mentioned.
According to him, prosecution has been able to prove its case without doubt that Nielsen murdered Zainab and Petra on April 5, 2018.
The Lagos State Government had accused the defendant of smothering Zainab and Petra to death at 3.45 a.m. at No. 4, Flat 17, Bella Vista Tower, Banana Island, Ikoyi.
Nielsen was arraigned on June 13, 2018, and he pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge of murder, which contravened Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015. (NAN)