Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Forensics In Nigeria: Are We Not Losing Out?


Imagine a Nigeria where  rape cases end with  conviction of  the rapist.. Life imprisonment. Imagine we have a robust and state-of-the-art laboratory second to none in Africa and competes for quality and standard with others such as the FBI’s.

Imagine a Nigeria where we would not have to depend on any nation for technological or scientific solutions (a bit far fetched, isn’t it?) -Imagine where we as a top 10 world economy, have the technological and scientific know how to develop solutions that are in high demand from nations across the globe-and we control who should have them or not.

Imagine our dear country having  robust  biometric database systems that just a punch on the button will display a suspect’s bio data-- where biological samples or trace evidence such as hair found at a crime scene is sufficient enough to pin down the perpetrators of crimes (a crime investigator’s dream)

Imagine a Nigeria as a reference nation and country of interest by foreign students and academicians for different scientific and technological disciplines-bringing in cold hard cash with it.
What stops us from getting there?  Why is it difficult to achieve convictions on rape cases in Nigeria?
 How many in this country know that it is possible to identify a person through his handwriting pattern in cases of forged documents --no matter how hard he tries to disguise it?
 How many Nigerians know that vehicles are arguably the best sources of forensic evidences (palynogical evidence in this case) that can lead to the location of kidnapping and armed robbery hideouts?

 How much have  insurance companies lost due to false claims given by the claimants, and because there is a limit to how much investigation (without forensics) can go, these claims have to be paid?
How sure are we that these   accident cases are really just accidents? The fire service puts out hundreds of fires every year, but how many have been investigated and really proven to be just accidents?

To what extent do our law enforcement agents know about the basic principles of crime scene management: such as protecting the integrity of the crime scene to avoid contamination of evidence? What about chain-of-custody of forensic evidence, proper packaging and storage? What  level of awareness do lawyers in Nigeria have  about expert witness and the important role they play in determining whether a suspect is guilty or not; if there are, how many of them have really grasp the importance of forensics and actually apply them? Many cases won or lost could have had a different outcome had forensics been involved.

Don’t you think a change is needed so that our Justice system can be strengthened and more reliable? Should we call it a “judicio-forensic” (first time that i’m seeing this word too ) revolution?
That is basically the essence. Convicting the guilty and exonerating the innocent. That is what forensics is all about. We have been missing alot. In some parts of  the world were forensics have been given priority, crime cases involving burglary, rape and drugs peddling don’t take time to prosecute and brought to a logical conclusion. I have seen a case in this country where a man suspected of stealing ‘amala’ from a food vendor (“mama put”) spend 10 months in jail without trial.

 No one is proud of that. No one!
We need to know what we are missing so that we can begin to align ourselves with the right policies and priorities.