This is how the first DNA forensic laboratory in Nigeria will reduce crime rates in Lagos State

With visionary leadership and commitment, Lagos state is fast becoming one of the most developed cities in Africa. More than any other state in Nigeria, the Lagos state government seems rather focused on building a functional and safe city for its residents. Since he became the governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode has made the commitment to build on the foundation his predecessor laid, by moulding the state into an advanced city.

In view of this, the Lagos State government announced, on Tuesday, the 23rd of February, that a DNA forensic laboratory will be established in Lagos and will kick off operations within the next year. The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, while speaking on behalf of the government, stated that the laboratory will be in charge of collection and preservation of reference and evidential DNA which can later be used in identifying criminals. Also, the DNA evidence will help to decode familial relationships of individuals and identify victims and remains after natural and man-made disasters.

On the benefits of the laboratory to the judicial system, Kazeem noted that the centre will assist the judiciary to challenge an alibi, confirm physical presence of suspects at the scene of a crime and the origin of DNA to such suspects. Lagos state’s commitment to fighting crime is commendable given the alarming crime statistics reported last year. According to the Guardian Newspaper, the Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, reported that within the past year, there were 220 murder cases, 25 kidnap cases and 44 armed robbery cases. Also, over 200 cars and items worth millions of Naira were recovered by the police.

While the Lagos State government may be commended for its recent efforts towards reducing crime in the state by donating more cars, vans and helicopters to the Nigerian police, this new DNA forensic laboratory presents an easy and effective method to identify criminals.

What may be a major stumbling block to this initiative is the lack of documentation in the country and also, that the Lagos state government has not given clear guidelines regarding how the DNA will be gotten. How does the government intend to get people’s DNA? Will all the families in Lagos have to do the DNA test?

Nonetheless, if the government can get this right, it will go a long way in nipping crime in the bud and exonerating the innocent in criminal investigations.

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