OSUN, Nigeria – A Nigerian court on Friday sentenced a Danish man to death after he was found guilty of killing his wife, a Nigerian and his 3-year-old daughter at their residence in the West African country in 2018.
In Nigeria, the death penalty for crimes such as murder is common but rare. According to Nigerian human rights lawyer Inibehe Efiang, only two death warrants have been signed by state governors since 1999.
Nevertheless, “the only punishment available for murder in Nigeria is death (and) the judge can do nothing in such a situation,” Efiang said.
Nielsen’s trial has been going on since June 2018 when he was first sentenced in court. The Lagos State Department of Justice “cited irrefutable and compelling evidence, citing the accounts of both forensic and direct eyewitnesses, that the victim was undoubtedly killed.”
“There is also evidence that there was a history of domestic violence against the victim by the suspect,” Lagos state government prosecutors said. He killed the two during a fight between them, the court heard.
His wife, Zainab Ali-Nielsen, was 37 and his daughter Petra Nielsen was 3 1/2 years old when they were killed on April 5, 2018, according to court documents.
Nielsen is not guilty of two counts of murder and, according to the government-run Nigerian news agency, told the court last year that he saw his wife and daughter lying lifeless on the floor one morning after waking up.
Judge Bolanle Okikiolu-Ighile, however, said prosecutors had been able to prove “necessary” evidence against Nielsen.
The Danish embassy in Nigeria could not be reached for comment on Nielsen’s death sentence, but legal experts believe his death sentence could not be carried out.
“The reality is that notorious prisoners are not sentenced to death,” he said.