The Lagos State Government Tuesday said it was finalizing plans to establish a first ever DNA Forensic Laboratory in Nigeria in furtherance of its commitment to reforms in the justice sector and its resolve to tackle all forms of criminal activities headlong.
The laboratory, which would be known as the Lagos State DNA Forensics Centre (LSDFC), is expected to take off within the next six to twelve months.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, who made this known while addressing a press conference at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, said the establishment of the centre was another proof of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s sincerity and seriousness towards fighting all forms of criminality.
According to the commissioner, when fully functional, the LSDFC would fulfill an unmet need for DNA profiling, which he pointed out, is a unique forensic technique that is now being used all over the world.
Mr. Kazeem, who addressed journalists alongside senior officials of the Ministry, said Governor Ambode had been at the forefront of the war against domestic, sexual and violent crimes, and that the centre was geared towards vigorous justice sector reforms.
Speaking on the importance of the forensic centre, the state attorney general said the facility, which would be driven by the Ministry of Justice with active support of the Governor, will focus on DNA analysis to support the justice sector in diverse areas such as “collection and preserving reference and evidentiary DNA which can later be used in identifying criminals; decoding familial relationships of individuals which could also be a tool for the judicial system; and identifying victims and remains after natural and man-made calamities”.
Explaining that DNA profiling is an extraction of DNA from body fluids, semen, nails, hair and other DNA generic sources, the commissioner said the centre would 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.
He said: “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.
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.
He further stated that the center would aid investigation on domestic and sexual violence cases, boost family and paternity proceedings, and help in identifying victims of natural and man-made disasters.
The Commissioner expressed optimism that the centre would be a unique solution to fighting crime in the quest of the present administration for a safer and secured Lagos, adding, “Lagos is a unique place with a unique Governor who has continued and will continue to provide unique solutions”.