The Lagos State DNA and Forensic Center has conducted 455 Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) tests since inception in 2017.
The Director of centre, Dr Richard Somairi, made the disclosure on Thursday during a webinar organised by the Center for Women’s Health and Information and the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team.
The webinar had the title: “A Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue: Towards an Enhanced State Level Response to Sexual And Gender-Based Violence in Lagos State”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that former Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos had established the centre in a bid to improve the administration of criminal justice.
While responding to questions, Somairi said that the centre had the capacity to handle all DNA evidence collected in the state.
He, however, said that the cost for the tests varied.
Somairi said:”The average cost for DNA or forensic tests varies, we have done about 455 cases since we started and the costs ranged from N20,000 to N15 million.
“For a typical murder case, we can collect about 60 evidentiary items and can go to the crime scene more than once.
“It really depends on the kind of case, the simplest cases we worked on are court-ordered relationship tests.
“It seems simple but it is complicated, some relationship tests have led to violence and we do not take it likely.“
According to him, no forensic unit has the capacity under disaster conditions to handle all cases without having a backlog.
“We realise that Lagos is a big state with 22 million people. As the awareness increases, the demand is going to be increased, and the plan is to scale up as the need arises,” he said.
The director said that improved response to sex and gender-based violence in the state would require large scale community awareness.
He said that there was the need for properly trained first responders and equipment, adding that the processes had to be monitored because individuals should be held accountable.
“We should also not forget that the perpetuators need help, they need to be treated and they need to be supported because if that does not happen, they become a burden to the society.
“There should be a minimum educational requirement for key responders and there should be continuous and specialised training for responders to sexual and gender-based violence,” he said.
In his address, Dr Olanrewaju Sodipo, Head of Department of Family Medicine, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, highlighted various challenges responders faced in addressing sexual-based violence.
He said that serial perpetuators of sexual abuse against minors preyed on their innocence.
“There was a case involving a child, and the parent were beating the child and blaming the child for the sexual abuse.
“We had to counsel them to understand that perpetuators prey on children because children usually do not understand what is going on and the perpetuators take advantage of that,” he said.
According to Sodipo, other challenges include poverty and pressure on survivors not to report sexual or gender-based violence.
“Hospitals lack an organisational structure for treating survivors, there is a high costs of DNA, medical investigations and drugs and emigrating healthcare professionals.
“There is also delay in prosecuting cases in court, long adjournments of cases in court, poor collaboration between medical officials and police and legal teams.
“There is need for a dedicated funding line and need for more sexual assault referral centres,” he added.