Nigerian Universities have been advised to assist the Nigeria Police in the utilization of forensic science to reduce crime and criminality in the country.
Instrumentation or the use of scientific methods to enhance physical evidence is a significant portion of crime detection and prosecution. Since universities are adept in scientific analysis, they should assist the police in bringing criminals to justice, it was further argued.
Speaking at the second International DNA/Fingerprinting Workshop organized by the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB), the President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu said forensic infrastructure should be developed in the Nigerian criminal justice system.
He said forensic science is slowly creeping into Nigeria through private companies which may not have the requisite bona fides and professionalism to put its benefits to general use, adding that the police agency should develop its crime laboratory to enable it solve serious crimes.
He urged the Nigeria Police to abandon its confession-led standard of policing and migrate to evidence-led methods. Ekhomu also said that Nigeria had an extremely high rate of unsolved murder, assassination, kidnapping and bombing cases because there was inadequate forensic science capability to detect and prosecute the perpetrators of the heinous crimes.
The AISSON Chief called on universities to partner with the police in DNA and fingerprint analysis, forensic pathology, forensic serology, forensic toxicology, forensic odontology, among others.
He regretted that high profile cases such as killing of Chief Bola Ige and Engr. Funsho Williams, among others, remained unsolved because the crime scenes where heavily contaminated. He urged police detectives to race to crime scenes and then meticulously process them for physical evidence. According to the international security expert, the forensic scientist will then use science including Chemistry, Physics, Biology etc, to enhance the probative value of the evidence.
He argued further that the chain of custody must be maintained once physical evidence has been collected from the crime scene. Said he: “Chain of Custody is the continuity of the possession of items of physical evidence to avoid accusation or suspicion of tampering with evidence or exhibit”. He argued the Nigeria Police to establish standards of chain of custody as exhibits in Police custody sometimes disappeared or were altered before court adjudication.
In his address, UNAAB Vice Chancellor, Prof. Oluwafemi O. Balogun stressed the use of DNA and fingerprinting in solving critical security-related problems.
“DNA isolated from blood, hair, skin cells or other genetic evidence at the scene of a crime can be compared with the DNA of a suspected criminal to determine guilt or innocence”, he said. “DNA analysis is also useful in establishing the identity of a homicide victim”.
The workshop was jointly organized by UNAAB’s Genomic Group, the Third World Academy of Science, Italy, Department of Biotechnology, India and Centre for DNA and Fingerprinting Diagnosis, Hyderabad, India. Renowned scientists at the Workshop included Dr. Anupuma Raina of the All Indians Institute for Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Prof. Elizabeth Balogun of UNAAB, and Prof. E. U. Essien of University of Calabar.