By Monsuru Olowoopejo
The Federal Government yesterday, disclosed that it has collected Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA, profile of arrested Boko Haram insurgents in an attempt to deal with the dissidents.
Meanwhile, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has commissioned first DNA Forensic Centre in West Africa, stressing that the centre would help resolve crimes, paternity and other issues through modern technology.
Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General Abayomi Olonishakin, while addressing congregation at the commissioning ceremony yesterday, which was also attended by Consul General of United States Embassy in Lagos, Mr. John Bray, hinted that the Abuja started a DNA project 2008.
Olonishakin, who was represented by Rear Admiral Lawan Adams, assured that the military would partner Lagos state government to ensure that the facility continuously provides the required service.
He said: “The centre is a major milestone for Nigeria because centres like this are used globally to fight insurgency and other crimes.
“The Defence Headquarters started its DNA centre since 2008. And incidentally, the agency that completed Lagos centre is the one we are partnering,” he added.
In order to ensure that the centre, when completed would have materials to work on, Olonishakin said: “Presently, we have collected samples of all military personnel and high profile insurgents for analysis.”
Earlier, Ambode said that completion and handing over of the centre was a significant milestone and a symbolic manifestation of his administration’s policies in reforming the justice sector and in line with his vision to make the State safe for residents and investors.
The governor added that the DNA Centre was another move by the government to stay ahead of criminals through scientific investigations.
Giving details of the DNA Centre, he noted that the facility has capacity to provide the Police, Prosecutors, Defence Attorneys and Private citizens with crime scene processing; serological screening for blood and semen; DNA analysis of bone, teeth and hair; maternal and paternal relationship DNA analysis; expert witness and case handling services; paternal and maternal ancestry DNA analysis; cold case file review and mass disaster human identification.
Ambode disclosed that the plans have been concluded to embark on second stage of building, that is, development of Toxicology; Trace Evidence and Controlled Substance Analysis; Fingerprint and Latent prints; Firearms, Ballistics and Tool Marks; Digital Forensics; and Questioned Documents Examination.
According to him, development of these other forensic sections at the facility would complement the DNA forensic section and enhance the level of services offered in the country.
He lamented that before development of the centre, most DNA analysis were performed outside Nigeria, a situation that caused longer turn-around times and an overall higher cost of bringing closure to a case.
“I am therefore convinced that the establishment of the Lagos DNA & Forensic Centre will improve the speed and quality of evidence collected to assist our Courts in the quick dispensation of justice. This centre is a definite boost for our administration’s Justice Sector reform programme. It shows that our covenant with Lagosians to create a safe and secure State is being kept,” Ambode added.
In his welcome address, the State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem said the centre would assist the State to have a reliable DNA database that would enable investigators and law enforcement officers identify crime patterns and suspects, and also help exonerate or convict suspects.
On his part, the Consul General of United States Embassy in Lagos, John Bray, commended the state government for successfully completing the building that would enhance justice and progress.