Zainab Nielsen, and daughter Petra, 3, were slain execution-style in the wee hours of April 5, at the apartment she lived in with her husband, at the Bella Vista Tower, Banana Island in Lekki. The circumstantial evidence found at the posh apartment is said by sources close to the investigation, as damning.
The main suspect in the murder of Zainab and her daughter is her husband, a Danish citizen called Peter Nielsen.
The police said that the killings actually occurred around 3:00am in the living room, but that Nielsen, who some neighbours described as ‘unpredictable’, must have dragged the bodies into the kitchen, to cover up the crime.
Sources told Daily Trust that Nielsen came to Nigeria in 2011, to work for a company called Cagril.
Some sources close to the late Zainab, said that at times Nielsen could be calm and quiet, while at other times brash and quick-tempered, shouting at domestic help for any little mistake.
One source, a neighbourhood’s housemaid, gave insight into what occurred between the couple a day before the horrific murder, that Nielsen was heard shouting at his wife and daughter, adding that the family has been going through tough times.
Some housemaids in the neighbourhood said on the fateful day, they spotted the Nielsens at the basement of the tower. They also noticed the husband’s restlessness. So it did not shock them when Gift Madaki, Zainab’s younger sister, showed up at the office of the Tower Manager, Mr. Kunle Kukoyi, to say she heard her elder sister crying throughout the previous night.
However, when the manger got to the apartment, no-one could gain entry because the entrance was locked from inside. He immediately notified the police.
Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chike Oti, said that police opened up investigation into the matter based on the complaint lodged by Kukoyi.
Oti said that Kukoyi alleged that he was informed by one Gift Madaki, 13, who happened to be the deceased’s younger sister, that she heard her elder sister crying in the early hours of the day. “The manager said that the girl said her elder sister was being manhandled by her husband, one Peter Nelson, 53, citizen of Denmark. Based on the report, the Command mobilized its Crime Scene Detectives to the location, as well as medics from Britannia Hospital, Lekki Phase One, to the Nielsens’ home.
“Two bodies, identified as that of Zainab Nielsen and her 3-year-old daughter Petra were found in the kitchen. The doctor and his team confirmed them dead. Preliminary investigation conducted at the scene revealed that the violence started in the couple’s bedroom, but the bodies were dragged to the kitchen. On closer examination, visible marks of violence were seen on the bodies. The corpses were photographed and evacuated to Lagos Island General Hospital for autopsy.”
Letters were sent to the embassy of Denmark intimating it that Lagos State Police Command is investigating Nielsen for murder.
Meanwhile, the case was on Wednesday charged before Yaba Chief Magistrate Court. Nielsen was remanded in prison custody.
Chief Magistrate Kikelomo Ayeye remanded the 53-year-old Dane, on a two-count charge of unlawful killing.
Nielsen’s plea was not taken. He was represented by Frank Udoka Amah. Prosecuting counsel, Effiong Asuquo, tendered a three-page application, containing 15 grounds for Nielsen’s remand in prison. He said: “There is overwhelming forensic evidence linking the defendant to the assault and murder of his wife and daughter. Investigation has also shown that the defendant was habitually violent to his late wife, Zainab.”
According to Asuquo, a fight broke out between the couple in their flat at about 3:00am on that fateful day. He said Nielsen was allegedly seen fighting and hitting the deceased’s head on a wall by her two relations, Mimi, 11, and Faith, 13 who lived with them. She died from injuries sustained from the assault. The prosecutor alleged that Nielsen then poisoned Petra before dragging her body into the kitchen.
Asuquo said: “He took the lifeless little girl and put her under the mother’s body and then put on gas stove burners in the kitchen so that it will be believed that the wife and daughter were suffocated to death by the cooking gas. It is in the national interest that the suspect remain in prison pending legal advice and his arraignment and trial.”
Chief Magistrate Ayeye upheld his prayer, and remanded Nielsen in prison, adjourning the case till May 8.