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Defence HQ to bank 80,000 blood samples

….As Petinrin urges soldiers to donate blood
BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
ABUJA—The Defence headquarters disclosed weekend, that the DHQ DNA banking laboratory analysis centre being put in place for the Nigerian Armed Forces  has capacity for more than 80, 000  samples.

This is with storage of samples in the dry state and at ambient temperature, making it more cost effective to set up, operate and maintain. The project is expected to be completed by December 2011, Chief of Research and Development at the Defence headquarters, Major General Saleh Maina who made the disclosure, explained that six military officers, two each from the Army, Navy and Air Force have already been trained in the USA for eight months for the exercise.

He said that the established reference DNA bank and programme will allow DHQ to collect, bank, and manage DNA samples for the entire Nigerian military.

He noted that “when fully operational, the DHQ DNA banking and analysis project will provide the DHQ, the ability to perform forensics, human identification and biomedical research. Blood samples will be collected by phlebotomists using specialized blood collection kits.”

Blood collected from each personnel will be spotted into special plates called GenPlates, which contains barcodes that allows tracking and accurate retrieval of individual samples”.

Emphasizing that the “GenPlates will be stored in DNA personal archives, which comes with a computer workstation, infrared scanner and a software called GenConnect that is password protected, Gen. Maina said “Each door is assigned a code that is linked to the donors unique military number.

This ensures that only authorized personnel will be able to link a specific DNA sample to an individual”.

While noting that “DNA contains the generic instructions required for the development and proper functioning of all living organisms” he said “Each individual has a unique DNA fingerprint/signature. The information encoded in the DNA is unique for many applications including identification of humans and determination of the risk for developing certain diseases.

The people most actively involved in DNA collection include Law enforcement agencies, scientific researchers, and the military”.

Giving a background of recent DNA applications in the Nigeria military, Gen. Saleh said, “The Defence Identification Center provided support to the JTF by helping in the identification of missing in action/killed in action military personnel in Warri. Briefly, 3 unidentified remains were recovered from a Joint Task Force boat that suffered an explosion, fire and submersion for about 7 days in May 2009”.

“Defence Identification Center personnel and DNA forensics consultant went to Warri to collect DNA specimens, and used the DNA forensics methodologies to accurately establish the identity of the 3 body parts recovered from the boat, thereby classify the individuals killed in action rather than missing in action”.

Gen. Saleh added however that “the analysis had to be done abroad” noting “When our Defence Identification Center is fully operational, there will be no need to send samples abroad for analysis”.

….As Petinrin urges soldiers to donate blood

Officers and personnel of the Nigeria Armed Forces have been directed to donate their blood samples willingly to the DNA project initiated for the military by the Defence headquarters, following the flag-off of the DNA blood sample collection programme in the country.

Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin who gave the directive on the occasion of the DNA Banking and Testing conference in Abuja, noted that it had become necessary as most armed forces in the world have developed DNA banks for the storage and proper identification of its personnel.

Pentinrin said “proof of death of persons as a legal requirement is also made easier by the modern DNA facility”.

Declaring that the Nigerian military has made significant efforts in promoting world peace through their participation in peace support operations, the CDS said, “in the course of participation, some of the personnel have paid the supreme price. Such fallen heroes had always received befitting burials.”

However, in a few occasions of multiple fatalities where their corpses could not be easily identified, mass burials were resorted to, thus, denying such heroes the privilege of being buried properly”.

“It is against this background that the DHQ established a DNA bank as part of Defence Identification Center in 2008, the first of such government project in Nigeria” he said adding “It is expected that, when completed, the project will be of immense benefit to the Nigerian Armed forces, the Nigeria Police force, Para-military organizations, and the nation at large”.

In his remarks, Chief of Research and Development, Defence headquarters, Major General Saleh Maina said, “DNA is a nucleic acid molecule present in the nucleus of all cells. It contains the generic instructions required for the development and proper functioning of all living organisms. It is also responsible for transfer of generic information from one generation to another”.

“Each individual has a unique DNA fingerprint/signature. The information encoded in the DNA is unique for many applications including identification of humans and determination of the risk for developing certain diseases. The people most actively involved in DNA collection include Law enforcement agencies, scientific researchers, and the military”.

Giving a background of recent DNA applications in the Nigeria military, Gen. Saleh said, “The Defence Identification Center provided support to the JTF by helping in the identification of missing in action/killed in action military personnel in Warri. Briefly, 3 unidentified remains were recovered from a Joint Task Force boat that suffered an explosion, fire and submersion for about 7 days in May 2009”.

“Defence Identification Center personnel and DNA forensics consultant went to Warri to collect DNA specimens, and used the DNA forensics methodologies to accurately establish the identity of the 3 body parts recovered from the boat, thereby classify the individuals killed in action rather than missing in action”.

Gen. Saleh added however that “the analysis had to be done abroad” noting “When our Defence Identification Center is fully operational, there will be no need to send samples abroad for analysis”.


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