Nigeria: Danish man sentenced to death for killing his wife, daughter

OSUN, Nigeria — On Friday, a Nigerian court detained a Danish man to death after finding him guilty of killing his wife, as well as his 3-year-old daughter, at their Banana Island residence in the West African country in 2018. 

The man who killed his wife was named as ‘Peter Nielson, 54, the Lagos High Court ruled, marking an end to a four-year ordeal that tested diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Denmark. 

According to Inibehe Effiong, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, in Nigeria, death sentences for capital offences such as murder are common, but those implementations rarely occur. State governors have signed only two warrants for death sentences in the country since 1999. 

Furthermore, Effiong stated that notwithstanding, the only punishment of murder in Nigeria is death (and) under such circumstances, there is nothing a judge can do.

Nielsen’s trial has been on since June 2018, when he was first indicted in court. The Lagos State Ministry of Justice cited “overwhelming and compelling proof, both forensic and direct eye-witness account, showing without doubt that the suspect killed the victims.”

“There is also proof that there was a history of domestic violence against the victim by the suspect, said the prosecutors with the Lagos state. It happened during one of their fights that he killed the two, the court heard. 

According to court documents, his wife, Zainab Ali-Nielsen, was 37, and his daughter, Petra Nielsen, was three 1/2-years-old when they were killed on April 5, 2018.

Nielson claimed not guilty to the two-count charge of murder, as per the sources, which told the court last year that one morning when he woke up, he found his wife and daughter lying lifeless on the floor. 

However, Judge Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile held that prosecutors could prove the “compelling” evidence against Nielsen.

The Danish embassy in Nigeria could not be reached for a situation to comment on Nielsen’s death penalty, but legal experts believe there is still a chance he might not be executed.

“The reality is that the convicted prisoners are never executed,” said Effiong.