The Honourable Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem has said the Lagos State DNA & Forensic Center (LSD&FC) can help the criminal justice system and other key areas of investigation.
Mr. Kazeem said this in his Welcome Address at the 2nd Lagos State DNA & Forensic Symposium Held at The Civic Centre on 27th November, 2017. Speaking at the event which was organized by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre and ITSI-Biosciences, LLC, Johnstown, PA USA, Mr. Kazeem noted that the Centre was a promise fulfilled. “It must be emphasized that when I welcomed participants to the first of this kind of training that was organized on the 15th to 17th November, 2016, the Centre was still work in progress and being set up for operations.”
“At that time, participants were informed that the Centre would be ready by 2017 and I am glad to inform you that His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, commissioned the state-of-the-art DNA Crime Laboratory on the 27th September, 2017 in fulfillment of his promise to Lagosians.”
According to the AG, the laboratory is the first state owned Lab in West Africa and a clear testimony to the vision and mission of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to further radically improve the justice sector in Lagos State.
He expressed the optimism that the centre would make Lagos the destination city for the growth and development of forensic technology in the whole of Africa.
With the establishment of the DNA Laboratory, Lagos State is well on its way and has finally joined the international community in applying scientific methods to prosecution, law enforcement, criminal investigations, national security and disaster management. He stated.
Highlighting some of the beneficiaries of the centre, Mr. Kazeem stated; the target audience that includes Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers and Legislators; Police, Prison officials, security personnel, Investigators, Forensic pathologist/scientists, Medical practitioners, Emergency responders and other stakeholders e.g., investigative journalists, students, NGOs and the Press will have the opportunity of learning how the Lagos State DNA & Forensic Center (LSD&FC) can help the criminal justice system and other key areas of investigation.
Speaking further, the AG noted:
You will agree with me that every one of us needs this Centre in our various areas or fields for one purpose or another. As for me and by the dictates of my Office, I see it as an effective means of investigation and prosecution of criminal matters.
The LSD&FC Forensic DNA/Biology team has forensic casework experience involving but not limited to mass disaster identification, homicides, burglary, missing persons, unidentified persons, kidnapping and ransom cases, human trafficking as well as assisting those who have been wrongfully accused.
The DNA database that is being developed at the facility will be a powerful investigative tool that stores the DNA profiles from criminal matters as well as the reference samples from those who have offended. This includes sexual offenders.
Since the opening of LSD&FC, the forensic scientists have provided wide ranging forensic services to Lagosians for the purposes of a sexual assault involving child (molestation), medical malpractice, unexplained death, estate settlement, child trafficking, paternity, maternity and immigration issues.
We are very proud of the facility and it is already numerous local and international enquiries for its services and has been approached by other States to assist in establishing of similar labs.
For My Lords, the Judges, Magistrates and other judicial officers, this training will focus on what Forensic DNA analysis is and how to manage it in the Courtrooms; for the Legislators, it is to train them on what DNA Forensic Science is and for proper guidance in passing necessary laws in this regard; for the Police, investigators, Emergency Response Team and others, they will be trained on what Forensic DNA analysis is, how it will assist their investigation, recognition/collection/preservation of evidence and preparation for trial.
For Lawyers, the Symposium is to train us about what forensic DNA analysis is, how it can provide a very positive assistance to our cases as well as its usefulness in the preparation for trial and for investigators, prosecutors and law enforcement officers forensic science helps resolve many types of crimes that would have been difficult, if not impossible, to solve in the past.
It has been argued that as useful as it is, DNA evidence is not incontrovertible. Its value can be compromised by contamination from extraneous DNA anywhere along the chain, from crime scene to the laboratory where the sample is sequenced. A robust signal from semen, saliva or tissue can narrow the probability of a false match to virtually zero, and trace amounts of DNA left on an object handled by a suspect can yield much less accurate results.
DNA sequence in a lab is only as good as the training, competence and integrity of the person conducting the analysis. I am very happy that we have one of the leading companies in the World acting as our Consultants on this project – Messrs ITSI Biosciences led by Dr. Richard Somiari and his team.
TRAINING, TRAINING and TRAINING, mentoring and adherence to set protocols is therefore very key to success of this technology.
I therefore implore every one of us to ensure that we take full advantage of the opportunity of this first class and eminent faculty chosen to train us so that at the end we will all be better trained and better informed to take advantage of this technology.
As mentioned by his Excellency Governor Ambode plans are already underway in the next few years to establish other forensic sections to complement the DNA Crime Laboratory.