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Lagos to Establish First DNA Forensic Lab in Nigeria

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The Lagos State Government has unveiled plans to establish a DNA forensic centre, which it said will be the first of its kind in the country and will be located in a public health facility on Lagos Island.

According to Thisday.com, the state government justified the establishment of the centre christened the Lagos State DNA Forensics Centre (LSDFC), adding that Lagos “has continued to face more sophisticated crimes and criminals who are determined to escape the long arm of the law”.

The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, disclosed the plan at a news conference he addressed at the state secretariat, Alausa on Tuesday, alongside the Solicitor-General, Mrs. Funmilola Odunlami, and Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Idowu Alakija, among others. At the briefing, Kazeem said the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode initiated the process of establishing the forensic centre to demonstrate its commitment to criminal justice reform. He pointed out that Ambode’s administration has fought crimes from all fronts, donated N4.76 billion to the Lagos State Police Command, initiated the Light up Lagos Project and collaborated with the security agencies on crime flashpoints in different parts of the state.

Despite these initiatives, the attorney-general said Nigeria, and indeed Lagos, “have continued to face more sophisticated crimes and criminals who are determined to escape the long arm of the law. Therefore, our crime fighting has to become more measured and concerted, especially when it comes to the use of technology that makes investigation and prosecution and adjudication more effective”. He said the state Ministry of Justice with the support of Ambode “will drive the DNA forensic centre vigorously. The DNA centre will fulfil an unmet need for DNA profiling, a forensic technique that is now used worldwide”.“DNA profiling involves the extraction of DNA from body fluids, semen, nails, hair and other DNA generic sources. This will controvert evidence of alibi and confirm physical presence of the suspect at the scene of the crime and the origin of DNA to the suspect.

“Even though the role of DNA in forensics, law enforcement and 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,” the attorney-general explained. Kazeem observed that the centre would not only fulfil the growing DNA profiling needs of the judicial process, but could also become a revenue generating centre for the state by serving the public, other states and neighbouring countries. He said the Lagos State DNA Forensic Centre “will be of international standard that other stakeholders including security agencies will also benefit from. “It will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to support all levels of DNA collection from people and objects, evidence examination, DNA analysis and provide evidential DNA storage”. He said the DNA centre would focus specifically on criminal investigation, domestic and sexual violence cases, family and paternity proceedings, and identifying victims of natural and manmade disasters. The attorney-general added that DNA investigations are now used to unequivocally solve all types of cases, in less time and with less cost and effort compared to traditional methods.“The impact that DNA forensics have had on saving lives, liberty, and property simply cannot be measured,” he stated.

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