The Lagos State Government has disclosed that plans are ongoing to equip its Forensic Centre with Chemistry and Toxicology units to strengthen criminal investigations.
The Solicitor-General / Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Funlola Odunlami, who made the disclosure at the 4th Lagos Forensic Symposium at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, opined that the unit would commence operations by 2020 to help the government uncover illegal use of controlled substances and drugs in the State.
“The inclusion of the forensic chemistry and toxicology checks will enhance criminal investigations in the State and also speed up the identification and conviction of perpetrators of cases related to intake of poisonous and harmful substances in the body”, Odulami said.
She added that the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre located at Odunlami area of Lagos Island has played a significant role in investigating over 100 cases of deaths, identification of exhumed human remains, rape and burglary since the commencement of operations in 2017.
The Lagos State Solicitor-General further noted that the forensic center has also investigated about 300 cases of paternity and other heredity related issues, stressing that Nigeria has finally joined the international community’s efforts in applying scientific methods to prosecution, defense, law enforcement, criminal investigations, national security, and disaster management.
Odunlami explained that the symposium was aimed at providing the public with information on the role of forensic science in criminal investigation and its importance to law enforcement agencies and the judiciary on mass fatalities, sexual assault, and other issues.
Also speaking at the event, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu said the introduction of forensic science has helped in utilising Criminal Speciality Law in investigating criminal identities and exonerate the innocent persons.
Muazu, represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, CIID, Mrs. Yetunde Alonge, said investment in forensic investigation shows the visionary leadership of the Lagos State Government and urged the participants to tap into the wealth of knowledge of the professionals at the symposium.
In his remarks, the Director, Lagos State DNA & Forensic Centre, Dr. Richard Somiari, disclosed that Lagos State DNA and Forensic Laboratory is the only one accredited for Forensic DNA analysis in Nigeria, adding that the database accelerates the process of identifying victims of crimes, linking crimes to one another and also identifying serial offenders.
While commending the Lagos Police Command for its collaborative efforts with the State Forensic Centre, Somiari said forensic services are also available to NGOs, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and other members of the public.
Participants at the 4th Forensic Symposium included Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, Legislators, Police, Immigration, Customs, Investigators, Forensic Pathologists/Scientists, Medical practitioners, Emergency Responders, Fire Brigade, Investigative Journalists, Students, and the Press.
Recall that the Forensic Centre was established by the Lagos State government in 2017 to aid criminal investigation through DNA analysis.