With the increasing crime rate in Nigeria, it is almost way past high time, and only necessary that the country owns a Forensic lab. To that effect, the Lagos State Government has announced its plans to establish the first ever high-powered DNA Forensic Laboratory in Nigeria. This approach was triggered by the state’s commitment to the criminal justice sector reforms and fight against crime.
Forensic study deals with DNA profiling where DNA is extracted from body fluids, semen, nails, hair and other DNA generic sources. The lab, which would be called the Lagos State DNA Forensics Centre (LSDFC), will be fully operational within the next six to 12 months and will fulfill an unmet need for DNA profiling which is a unique forensic technique that is in use in most developed countries all over the world.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, while addressing journalists at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, said that the establishment of the center was another testimony of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s sincerity and seriousness towards fighting all forms of criminality.
Mr. Kazeem, said Governor Ambode had been at the vanguard of the war against domestic, sexual and violent crimes, and that the center was geared towards vigorous justice sector reforms. The commissioner spoke on the importance of the forensic center, stating that the facility would be driven by the Ministry of Justice with active support of the Governor.
According to him, the facility will focus on DNA analysis to support the justice sector in diverse areas such as collection and preserving reference and DNA which can be used as evidence to identify criminals; decode familial relationships of individuals and identify victims and remains of casualties. He also said the center would help to controvert evidence of alibi and confirm physical presence of suspects at the scene of a crime and the origin of DNA to such suspects.
“Even though the role of DNA in forensics, law enforcement and the justice sector is well-known globally, a high-powered DNA analysis center is not available in Nigeria. This means that most, if not all the DNA testing needs are performed outside Nigeria, a situation that leads to longer turnaround times and an overall higher cost of bringing closure to investigation and prosecution of crimes,” Mr Kazeem said.
The center would serve the DNA needs of the state, members of the public, other states and neighboring countries, as it would be of international standard. It would also be deployed for criminal investigation to identify criminals with incredible accuracy and exonerate suspects mistakenly accused or convicted of crimes. The Commissioner expressed optimism that the Center would be a unique solution to fighting crime in the quest of the present administration for a safer and secured Lagos, adding, that Lagos state is a unique place with a unique Governor who has continued and will continue to provide unique solutions to challenges faced in the state.
He further said that the government has partnered with experts in the DNA field on the project to build, operate and then transfer the project to the government after two years of operation. Hopefully, within that period, medical officials of the state must have been trained on how to run the Center. In the case of database collection and computing, Mr. Kazeem said data collated along the line, would be stored, and that other government ministries, departments and agencies would equally collaborate with the Ministry of Justice to effectively deliver on the mandate of the Center.