The Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre (LSD&FC) played an important role in investigating over 100 criminal cases since its establishment two years ago, Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Funlola Odunlami, has said.
She spoke yesterday at the opening of the fourth Lagos Forensic Symposium, held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Odunlami said the investigations covered suspicious deaths, identification of exhumed human remains, disaster victims’ identification, child trafficking, rape, burglary, among others.
She said the centre was involved in investigating and resolving over 300 paternity issues associated with inheritance.
Odunlami said forensic science had become an important part of criminal justice system, adding that it not only supported investigation, but also facilitated speedy identification and conviction of perpetrators of crimes and exoneration of the innocent.
“With the ever changing and evolving crime patterns, the government must constantly innovate, to make the state a safer place to live, work and visit,” she said.
LSD&FC Director Dr. Richard Somiari, said the Forensic Chemistry and Forensic Texicology units of the centre are being developed and will become operational in the fourth quarter of next year.
He said the units would be deployed against the use of narcotics and other illegal substances.
Somiari said sexual assault was the biggest of the investigations carried out by the DNA centre in the past.
He described the development as “a big problem.”
Somiari made a case for a legislation that would enable the centre collate profile of offenders from sources and establish a data base, to enable them determine easily if they were at a crime scene after initial conviction.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), in charge of Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Lagos Command, Yetunde
Longe, said: “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; a Danish man, Nelson, presently on trial for alleged murder of his wife and daughter, Zainab and Petra; Otike Odibe currently on trial for allegedly killing her husband, Syme Odibe and cutting his manhood, among others.
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 death 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 said.