The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said it has awarded the contract for the expansion of the operations of the DNA and Forensic Centre to include a world class Forensic Toxicology and Chemistry Section in line with efforts to expand the scope of operation of the Centre to offer more services.
The State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, who disclosed this in a statement, said the addition of the Toxicology and Chemistry Section was due to the high incidence and growing cases of homicide and suspicious deaths related to substance, alcohol abuse, drug related accidents and deaths, as well as suspected cases of poisoning.
“The award of this contract by the State Government is in fulfilment of the promise made by His Excellency Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at the commissioning of the Centre in September 2017, where the Governor informed Lagosians and the World that the first phase of the Centre was that of DNA and Forensic Biology and promised that the State would move to other phases by expanding the scope of operation of the centre to include Forensic Toxicology & Chemistry, Latent & Trace evidence, Firearms & Toolmark, Questioned documents and Digital evidence to expand the level of services offered by the DNA Centre,” the Attorney General said.
Kazeem expressed optimism that the Toxicology and Chemistry Section, which would be ready for commissioning in the third quarter of 2018, would automatically place Lagos as one of the leading centres for Forensics in Africa.
Highlighting some of the strides by the Governor Ambode administration in the justice sector, the Attorney said the DNA and Forensic Centre in the last three months received over 150 requests for forensic analysis from within and outside Nigeria, while over 35 cases have been resolved using Forensic Technology.
He said the DNA and Forensic Centre since it began operation in September 2017, has become a significant milestone and a symbolic manifestation of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s efforts to carry out reforms in the justice sector.
Kazeem listed some of the cases handled by the Centre to include: Suspicious Death Investigations, Analysis of Human Remains that were exhumed to resolve inheritance disputes, Child Trafficking, Rape, Impersonation, Paternity and Maternity issues, among others.
“In stating the achievements of the Ambode Administration in the ongoing reform in the Justice Sector in Lagos State, the Attorney General confirmed that the Lagos DNA Forensic Centre in the three months of operation has received over 150 requests for Forensic Analysis from within and outside Nigeria, while over 35 cases had been resolved using Forensic DNA Technology,” the Attorney General said.
Besides, he explained that the Centre held workshops and training for Judges, Legal Practitioners, Police, other Law Enforcement Agencies and Emergency Responders in the State, while several representatives of foreign embassies in Nigeria and several International agencies have visited the facility and expressed their willingness to partner with the Centre, a situation, which demonstrates the importance and credibility of the centre.
As part of the ongoing overall reform of the justice sector, Kazeem also pledged the State Government’s commitment to support the reform and digitization of the probate system currently being driven by the Judiciary to make it more efficient and responsive to the needs of the people. He also vowed to accelerate prison decongestion through aggressive use of restorative justice techniques, plea- bargaining and non-custodial sentencing.
While reiterating the continued commitment of the present administration to justice sector reforms, Kazeem thanked Lagosians and enjoined all stakeholders to continue to partner with the State Government in its effort towards maintaining security, law and order.