Ambode Inaugurates First DNA Forensic Lab in W’Africa

  •  Says facility will help unravel unresolved crime

Gboyega Akinsanmi

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Wednesday unveiled the first DNA & Forensic Centre in West Africa, which he said would help to unravel unresolved crimes, cater to paternity tests and other issues using world class technology.

He inaugurated the facility alongside the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, U.S. Consul General to Nigeria, Mr. John Bray, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, and the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, among others.

He explained the rationale behind the establishment of the lab, saying the state government had set up the facility to end the entrenched culture of delayed justice and unresolved crimes in the state.

According to him, the opening of the centre was a significant milestone and a symbolic manifestation of the government’s policies in reforming the justice sector and was in line with his vision to make Lagos safe for residents and investors.

He said with the centre, Lagos has joined the league of advanced countries that have embraced technology to make life easier for people in all spheres of existence.

The governor noted that he specifically approved the project because it would serve as an effective method of bringing perpetrators of crime to book and ensuring quick dispensation of justice
He said security was central to good governance and sustainability of investment to make life better for the people, noting that the state had invested in equipment, recruitment and training of security personnel to assist law enforcement agencies in the maintenance of public peace and security.

He acknowledged that the intervention “has translated into tremendous success by the reduction of crime in the state”.

“The centre is another move demonstrating our resolve to stay ahead of criminals through scientifically-led investigations.

“The facility has the capacity to provide the police, prosecutors, defence attorneys and private citizens with crime scene processing; serological screening for blood and semen; DNA analyses of bone, teeth and hair; maternal and paternal relationship DNA analyses; expert witness and case handling services; paternal and maternal ancestry DNA analyses; cold case file review; and mass disaster human identification,” the governor said.

With its inauguration, Ambode added that the state government would now move to the second stage of building extra capacity in the areas of toxicology; trace evidence and controlled substance analyses; fingerprint and latent prints; firearms, ballistics and tool marks; digital forensics; and questioned documents examination.

He said the development of other forensic sections at the facility “will complement the DNA forensic section and enhance the level of services offered today”.

“Before now, most, if not all DNA analyses and testing were performed outside Nigeria, a situation that caused longer turn-around times and 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 to our administration’s justice sector reform programme. It shows that our covenant with Lagosians to create a safe and secure state is being kept,” he said.

Also speaking at the inauguration, 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 to exonerate or convict suspects.

Bray congratulated the people of the state for successfully completing the first DNA forensic lab not only in Nigeria but in West Africa, saying the development would enhance the dispensation of justice.

Bray said the Ambode administration should be commended for undertaking such a project, adding that there was no question that the facility was of world class standard.