THISDAY

DNA and Foren­sic Cen­tre, MOJ Train Lagosians on the Im­por­tance of DNA Anal­y­sis for Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion

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As part of its train­ing on the use of DNA anal­y­sis in as­sist­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with the aim of en­sur­ing that crim­i­nal­ity is eas­ily de­tected through the use of tech­nol­ogy, the La­gos DNA and Foren­sic Cen­tre (LSD&FC) in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the La­gos State Min­istry of Jus­tice, held its 4th Foren­sic Sym­po­sium last week.

The two-day sym­po­sium, held at the Civic Cen­tre, Vic­to­ria Is­land, La­gos, pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for Foren­sic Sci­en­tists, Judges, Lawyers, Po­lice, In­ves­ti­ga­tors, Mil­i­tary, Emer­gency Re­spon­ders, Academia, Stu­dents and Med­i­cal Ex­am­in­ers, to meet an­nu­ally in Africa to dis­cuss lo­cal, re­gional and global trends, as well as in­ter­act and ex­change knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence.

Declar­ing the sym­po­sium open, La­gos State So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral and Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary, La­gos State Min­istry of Jus­tice, Mrs. Fun­lola Odun­lami, said Foren­sic Science is a very im­por­tant part of the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Sys­tem, be­cause it sup­ports in­ves­ti­ga­tions and it can fa­cil­i­tate the speedy iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and con­vic­tion of per­pe­tra­tors and ex­on­er­a­tion of the in­no­cent.

Odun­lami said La­gos State Govern­ment recog­nises the im­por­tance of foren­sic anal­y­sis, which is why the La­gos State DNA and Foren­sic Cen­tre, was es­tab­lished to sup­port in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­ducted by the Nige­ria Po­lice and other law en­force­ment agen­cies.

Ac­cord­ing to her, the Cen­tre which was com­mis­sioned in Septem­ber 2017, and the Foren­sic Bi­ol­ogy/DNA Unit and the DNA Data­base and Match­ing sys­tem at­tained ISO 17025: 2017 ac­cred­i­ta­tion in Fe­bru­ary.

The So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral said the La­gos DNA and Foren­sic Cen­tre, has played a sig­nif­i­cant role in over 100 in­ves­ti­ga­tions; in­clud­ing sus­pi­cious deaths, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of ex­humed hu­man re­mains, dis­as­ter vic­tims iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, child traf­fick­ing, rape, bur­glary, and over 300 cases in­volv­ing pa­ter­nity is­sues as­so­ci­ated with in­her­i­tance.

"With the ever chang­ing and evolv­ing crime pat­terns, the State Govern­ment must con­stantly in­no­vate, in or­der to make the State a safer place to live, work and visit", she fur­ther stated.

Di­rec­tor of the LSD&FC, Dr. Richard So­mi­ari, in his re­marks, said the Foren­sic Chem­istry and Foren­sic Tex­i­col­ogy Units of the Cen­tre are presently be­ing de­vel­oped, and will be­come oper­a­tional in the fourth quar­ter of next year.

So­mi­ari said the units would be de­ployed against the use of nar­cotics, and other il­le­gal sub­stances.

“The Foren­sic Chem­istry and Foren­sic Tox­i­col­ogy Units are presently be­ing de­vel­oped, and th­ese dis­ci­plines will be oper­a­tional by the 4th quar­ter of 2020. Th­ese units will help with the fight against the il­le­gal use of con­trolled sub­stances and drugs”, he said.

The LSD&FC Di­rec­tor said sex­ual as­sault was the big­gest of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions car­ried out by the DNA cen­tre dur­ing past years, de­scrib­ing the de­vel­op­ment as "a big prob­lem".

He said LSD&FC works very closely with the Nige­ria Po­lice, and its ser­vices are avail­able to other law en­force­ment agen­cies, the mil­i­tary, NGOs, in­ves­ti­ga­tors, pros­e­cu­tors, de­fence at­tor­neys, hos­pi­tals, se­cu­rity agen­cies, im­mi­gra­tion ser­vices, cus­toms, emer­gency ser­vices, and the pub­lic.

Dr. So­mi­ari made a case for a leg­is­la­tion that will en­able the Cen­tre to col­late pro­files of of­fend­ers from dif­fer­ent sources, and es­tab­lish a data base to en­able them de­ter­mine eas­ily if they were at a crime scene af­ter ini­tial con­vic­tion.

Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice (DCP) in charge of the Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion and In­tel­li­gence Depart­ment, La­gos Com­mand, Ye­tunde Longe, re­marked that "a homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tor must be thor­ough, fo­cused, un­bi­ased, ex­pe­ri­enced and in­tel­li­gent", to achieve a suc­cess­ful crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

She listed some of the cases suc­cess­fully in­ves­ti­gated with the as­sis­tance of the LSD&FC to in­clude that of the mur­der of Chief Opeyemi Bade­mosi by his To­go­lesse cook, Sun­day Aniene, who has been con­victed and sen­tenced to death by the court; Dan­ish man, Nel­son, presently on trial for al­leged mur­der of his wife and daugh­ter, Zainab and Pe­tra, re­spec­tively; Otike Odibe presently on trial for al­legedly killing her hus­band, Syme Odibe, and sev­er­ing his man­hood from his body among oth­ers.

“In the course find­ing out the au­thor of crimes, the Depart­ment (SCIID) en­joys a very ro­bust re­la­tion­ship with the La­gos DNA and Foren­sic Cen­tre, the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tion, the Coro­ner and the Depart­ment of Pathol­ogy at the La­gos State Uni­ver­sity Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal. Their im­mense con­tri­bu­tions over the years can never be over em­pha­sised”, DCP Longe added.

A foren­sic spe­cial­ist from the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Dr. Elif Eskikoy, urged the Fed­eral Govern­ment to de­velop a mass fer­til­ity master plan for Nige­ria to care for hun­dreds and thou­sands of deaths in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.

"Th­ese plans ac­knowl­edge that peo­ple are go­ing to die in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions, in­sur­gen­cies and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, and how the bod­ies of vic­tims are man­aged to en­sure proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion", she stressed.

The two-day sym­po­sium, which was co-spon­sored by GIZ (Ger­man Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment), GE Health­care Life­sciences, UK, In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and BODE Tech­nol­ogy, USA, featured top­ics which in­clude, Do­mes­tic and Sex­ual As­sault In­ves­ti­ga­tions, Ba­sic Body Fluid Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in Foren­sics, Touch DNA in Foren­sic In­ves­ti­ga­tions, Con­trolled Sub­stance and Tox­i­col­ogy In­ves­ti­ga­tions, Foren­sic Ev­i­dence Ad­mis­si­bil­ity and Weight in Nige­ria.

Other Speak­ers at the sym­po­sium in­clude Di­rec­tor, Direc­torate of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions, La­gos State Min­istry of Jus­tice, Dr. Baba­jide Martins, Head of Com­po­nent, GEZ Po­lice Pro­gram for Africa, Mr. Hart­mut Zan­der, DNA Tech­ni­cal Leader, Guardian Foren­sic Sciences, USA, Arthur Young, F-ABC, Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cer, Lake Coun­try Crime Lab, USA, Mr. David Green, Di­rec­tor & DNA Tech­ni­cal Leader, LSD&FC, An­nette Ale­hin MS, Sr Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Man­ager, GE Health­care, Life­ser­vices, UK, Mo­hammed Abdo, Drug Chem­istry Tech­ni­cal Leader, LSD&FC, Yan­nis Charles MS, Vice Pres­i­dent, BODE Tech­nol­ogy, USA, Man­zar Ahmed, DNA An­a­lyst 1, LSD&FC, Afeez Akande, and DNA An­a­lyst 1, LSD&FC, Ades­ola On­a­banjo.

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 ??  ?? L-R: Ma­jor Gen­eral Ishaku Pen­nap (Rtd), An­nette Alchin, MS, DNA & Foren­sic Cen­ter Di­rec­tor, Dr. Richard So­mi­ari, So­lic­i­tor-Gen­eral/Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary, La­gos State Min­istry of Jus­tice, Mrs. Fun­lola Odun­lami, Arthur Young, BSC, F-ABC and David Green, BS, at the 4th La­gos Foren­sic Sym­po­sium, held at The Civic Cen­tre, Vic­to­ria Is­land La­gos, last week
L-R: Ma­jor Gen­eral Ishaku Pen­nap (Rtd), An­nette Alchin, MS, DNA & Foren­sic Cen­ter Di­rec­tor, Dr. Richard So­mi­ari, So­lic­i­tor-Gen­eral/Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary, La­gos State Min­istry of Jus­tice, Mrs. Fun­lola Odun­lami, Arthur Young, BSC, F-ABC and David Green, BS, at the 4th La­gos Foren­sic Sym­po­sium, held at The Civic Cen­tre, Vic­to­ria Is­land La­gos, last week

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