Lagos rolls out first DNA centre in Nigeria

Eniola Ajayi, Lagos

The Lagos State Government has announced plans to set up the first DNA forensic laboratory in Nigeria.

The State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem who made this known to journalist in Ikeja stated that the move was in a bid to boost criminal investigation procedures as well ensure continued justice sector reforms.

DNA in perspectives

While shedding light on the issue, Mr Kazeem defined the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) profiling as an extraction of DNA from body fluids, semen, nails, hair and other DNA generic sources.

According to him, “the centre will greatly 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.”

The Attorney General believed that the centre would fulfill an unmet need for DNA profiling which is a unique forensic technique, now being used all over the world.

Mr Kazeem said apart from criminal investigation, the centre would also focus on domestic and sexual violence, paternity issues and identification of victims of natural disasters.

Big League

The Justice Commissioner affirmed that with Lagos coming up with such a facility, Nigerians would have no need to travel out of the country to resolve DNA issues. In his words- “Nigeria is ready to be in the big league.”

“Even though the role of DNA in forensics, law enforcement and the justice sector is well known globally, a high-powered DNA analysis centre 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.”

He said when operational, the centre will serve the DNA needs of the state, members of the public, other states and neighbouring countries, saying it would be of international standard which all stakeholders including security agencies would benefit from.

Areas of operation

On the areas of focus, Kazeem said the Centre would be deployed for criminal investigation to identify criminals with incredible accuracy and exonerate suspects mistakenly accused or convicted of crimes.

“The Centre would also aid investigation on domestic and sexual violence cases, boost family and paternity proceedings, and help in identifying victims of natural and man-made disasters,” Mr Kazeem stressed.

He further said the government was partnering with experts in the DNA field on the project, who would build, operate and transfer to government after about two years, a period within which the officials of the state must have been trained on how to run the Centre.

Fielding questions on the challenge of collecting database for the centre, 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 Centre.

He further said the government was partnering with experts in the DNA field on the project, who would build, operate and transfer to government after about two years, a period within which the officials of the state must have been trained on how to run the Centre.

The forensics laboratory which will be called the Lagos State DNA Forensics Centre (LSDFC) will be established on the Island of Lagos and is expected to be fully operational within the next twelve months.

 

Nnenna.O