Lagos Assembly Passes DNA Bill and Forensic Center to Aid Criminal Investigations

The Lagos State Legislative Assembly has passed a bill to establish the Lagos State Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) and Forensic Center to support criminal investigations, law enforcement and preservation of evidence for the legal system and other related purposes.

The bill passed the House after passing third reading in plenary on Monday, with all lawmakers present giving their approval.

The report on the bill was adopted at an earlier session chaired by President Mudashiru Obasa.

Part of the objectives of the center is to provide for the use and regulation of DNA-based technology in Lagos State in order to perform profiling or analysis.

The center must also “carry out other forensic disciplines including toxicology, drug chemistry, fingerprint examination, firearms examination, tool mark examination, ballistics, evidence trail analysis, examination of interrogated documents and digital forensics to obtain evidence relevant to the investigation of criminal offences.

“Provide for the use of DNA profiles in criminal investigations and the use of these profiles to prove the innocence or guilt of persons.

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“Provide the conditions under which samples for DNA profiles can be stored or destroyed.

“Establish a DNA database and DNA index system in the state as well as establish a DNA bank for the storage of reference DNA samples.”

The bill gives the center the power to take specific bodily samples from certain categories of people for DNA analysis; collect, examine, document and preserve evidence that can then be used for the identification of offenders, among other things.

The bill also allows the center to decode the family ties and relationships of individuals in order to establish an identity as well as the identification of abandoned or challenged children and other related matters.

The center is expected to recommend methods for the optimal use of DNA techniques and technologies for the administration of justice.

Mark M. Gagnon