The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said the first DNA Forensic Center to be established in Nigeria by any State Government will become operational by the first quarter of 2017.
Speaking at the maiden edition of annual Lagos Forensic Symposium held at De Renaissance Hotel in Ikeja, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, said meticulous processes were being put in place in partnership with international renowned experts in forensic science to ensure that the Center, upon completion, is compared to the best in the world.
Kazeem said the symposium, which was put together by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice and ITSI-Bio-sciences, Johnstown, PA, United States, was part of measures to sensitize key stakeholders in the justice administration system with the view to adequately prepare them for the new technology coming on board.
Kazeem recalled that since inception, the present administration under the leadership of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had made law and order and security as one of the major focal points of his administration, especially with the procurement of multi billion naira equipment for the police and other security agencies.
“In the same vein, in order to ensure that there is proper investigation and prosecution of crimes, the Governor approved that this DNA Forensic center be established. The center will be world class and the first by any State Government in Nigeria and it will help in investigation, prosecution and adjudication.
“What it means is that our crimes will be resolved faster, there would be more potent and precise investigation by the police and the situation where people are wrongly accused and convicted will be eliminated and the right people who have committed crimes would be prosecuted. This is good for Nigeria, it is good for Lagos and it shows that Lagos is a leader and it will continue to be a leader in innovation and technology.
“The center is going to be ISO certified which means it is going to be world class; it is going to be used by not only Lagosians or Nigerians and I am sure that international institutions or organizations, embassies that are in Nigeria will utilize it. People from West Africa and even in the entire sub-Saharan Africa will utilize it. We are not going to cut any corners and it will be world class. What people do presently is that some of the samples for testing are flown abroad for sampling in South Africa, United States, United Kingdom and the likes but we are going to stop all that and have our own world class DNA Forensic Center here in Lagos.”
While expressing excitement at the introduction of science and technology to the investigative and judicial process in the State, Kazeem said the development will energize the criminal justice system to fight all forms of criminality including sexual and gender based crimes, organized home burglaries, adding: “With DNA Forensics, each suspect can be put in a database and even if there is not enough evidence in the first or second case, a pattern would have been established and the person’s records are on file such that if they come up at another crime scene, it becomes much easier to get a conviction.”
Lead discussant at the symposium and President of ITSI-Biosciences, Dr. Richard Somiari, said the State would benefit a lot from the DNA centre, adding that with forensic capabilities, crimes would be resolved faster and so many cases which hitherto could not be resolved would be addressed faster.
On his part, the Chairman of the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Dele Oloke, said the establishment of the DNA centre was an eloquent confirmation that Lagos State is being governed by deep thinkers and vibrant people, adding that the centre would also help in reducing incidences of innocent people being unduly punished, thereby reducing cases of awaiting inmates in the prison.