By Lucy Osuizigbo
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos on Wednesday inaugurated the state’s Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) and Forensic Centre to accelerate collection of evidence and improve its quality to quicken justice dispensation.
The centre is located at CMS on Lagos Island. The centre is the first government-owned in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that DNA is a molecule that reveals the chromosomes in the centre of cells of living things.
Ambode said: ”Before now, most of, if not all DNA analysis and testing, were performed outside Nigeria, a situation that caused longer turn-around time and an overall higher cost of bringing closure to a case.
”I am, therefore, convinced that the establishment of the centre will assist our courts in quick dispensation of justice.
”This centre is a definite boost for our administration’s justice sector reform programme, and it will further transform the system of administration of justice in Lagos in particular and Nigeria as a whole.’’
The governor said that the centre had the capacity to provide the police, prosecutors, defence attorneys and private citizens with crime scene processing and serological screening for blood and semen.
He said that it would also provide services such as DNA analysis of bone, teeth and hair; maternal and paternal relationship DNA analysis, expert witness and case handling services.
“Besides, it will help in paternal and maternal ancestry DNA analysis; cold case file review and mass disaster human identification.
”With the successful completion of this stage of the facility, our administration plans to include additional capacity in the areas of toxicology, trace evidence and controlled substance analysis, fingerprint and latent prints, firearms, ballistics and tool marks, digital forensics and questioned documents examination.
”The development of these other forensic sections at the facility will complement the DNA and forensic section and enhance the level of services offered today.
” This will be helpful when dealing with organised crimes, as scientific methods can now help prosecutors to exonerate or convict a suspect, thereby reducing incidence of crime in the state,” Ambode said.
He said that his administration established the centre in the realisation that security was vital for good governance and sustainability of investment.
Mr John Bray, the U.S. Consul-General in Nigeria, said that the centre would better equip Lagos and Nigeria to deal with social challenges in an effective and scientific manner.
He said that the centre was set up in partnership with an American company – IPSI Bio-Science Company – adding that U.S. would continue to collaborate with Nigeria to bring about growth and progress.
Dr Richard Somiari, Managing Consultant of the centre said that the project was initiated in 2016 for consultation on old and new cases, crime scene processing and evidence collection.
Somiari said that the centre could carry out serological screening for blood, semen, saliva and mass disaster victims’ identification and cold case files’ review.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, lauded Lagos State Government for establishing the centre, saying that it would also help to fight insurgency.
Mr Imohimi Edgal, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, said that the centre would make police investigations and prosecution easier.
“It will help in solving crime cases; even our old and pending cases will now have closure with this centre,’’ he said.
Mr Adeniji Kazeem, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, said that efforts at transforming the judiciary and fighting crime would be incomplete without a modern crime laboratory centre.
Kazeem said that lack of proven scientific evidence had made trial of many cases difficult.
”We can now move away from relying on confessional statements,” he said (NAN)