Forensic Science has been identified as the panacea for addressing security and criminal challenges bedeviling the nation.
This was part of the thrust of the maiden international symposium, organised by the Forensic Science Unit of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka, Anambra State.
The symposium, which was oragnised in collaboration with the Nebraska Institute of Forensic Sciences, USA was attended by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations, Police Headquarters, Abuja, H.M Dagala, who represented the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris; representatives of the governors of Ebonyi and Anambra States, Prof. John Ekeh and Mrs. Vera Okonkwo respectively.
Resource persons and facilitators from the U.S.A include Prof. Charles Ochie; Dr. Uzoma Okafor; Prof. Kalu Ogbureke and Prof. Zachariah Oommen.
In his paper on the “Importance of Forensic Testing Integrity in Criminal Justice Dispensation,” the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, described the theme as timely and apt in view of the increased crime rates in the society, which range from murder, kidnapping, rape, fraud, disputed paternity, cybercrime, not only in Nigeria, but also globally with many of these transcending national boundaries.
However, the vice-chancellor lamented that despite it was disturbing that perpetrators of these crimes in the country had not been apprehended to face the wrath of the law, even in the face of physical evidence that could be of immense benefit if scientific principles had been applied to the investigation.
Ahaneku said: “If Nigeria is to be able to handle the criminal and security challenges confronting the country, then we must increasingly rely on forensic science.
This presumes the existence of certain pre-requisites such as the building up of adequate databank of finger prints and DNA, as well as a network of well-equipped forensic laboratories across the country, and importantly the production of the various cadres of professionals in forensic science”.
Ahaneku, a forensic expert, noted that despite the relevance of forensic science, these could be hampered by manipulations, saying the tests are carried out by human beings, who are prone to inducement and manipulation. “For instance, at the crime scene, false evidence can be planted. Sampling could be done the wrong way leading to inadvertent destruction of evidence.
There could also be deliberate destruction of physical clue by the forensic laboratory. The processed results can also be manipulated by experts, using bogus statistical measures,” he stressed.
To avoid these discrepancies, the vice-chancellor called on forensic testing protocols to adhere strictly to quality protocols prescribed for DNA laboratory and also to abide by the codes of ethics of the profession.
He further called on Nigerians to observe crime scene preservation, stressing: “In Nigeria, crime scene preservation is not heard of. I believe that when we begin to use DNA technology and foot/finger prints analysis to examine evidence from a crime scene, the public will learn to respect and keep away from crime scenes or get implicated.”