President Goodluck Jonathan Monday decried the lack of modern and technically up-to-date forensic laboratories in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
The absence of these facilities, he said, had hampered crime investigations by the police and relevant agencies across the country, adding that the country cannot continue to depend on other countries for quality and acceptable forensic services.
The president, who was represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade (rtd), at the official unveiling of this year’s Police Week Celebration and the inauguration of the Presidential Task Force in Abuja, said given the state of Forensic and Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) laboratories currently available for use by the police and other security agencies across the country, it was imperative for the laboratories to be set up in the country.
A statement made available to journalists, said this was line with the security component of the federal government’s transformation agenda and the need to curtail the rising crime wave.
According to him, the setting up of the committee was a direct response to the security challenges facing the country.
The committee, he said, was also charged to adivse the federal government on the modalities for upgrading the available laboratories and the propriety, technical and financial implications of establishing new ones in line with technical and professional standards obtainable worldwide.
Jonathan directed the committee to examine all laws relating to forensic services in the country, with a view to bringing them up-to-date with what obtains in other climes, especially as they concern the regulation of private forensic practices.
The President further expressed the readiness of government to invest in the establishment and equipment of forensic laboratories to keep up with rising crime rates occasioned by increasing population and urbanisation.
According to him, the establishment of modern forensic laboratories would greatly enhance the operations of the Nigeria Police and other security agencies especially in scene-of-crime, forgery, DNA and paternity investigations and also facilitate their prosecutions, while also assisting neighbouring countries with similar services.
He directed all data collection agencies such as the Nigeria Police Force, Immigration Services, the Nigeria Customs Services, the Prisons, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), National Identity Management Commission (MIMC), etc to be ready for data integration in order to facilitate crime detection and prosecution by the security agencies.
The committee which has about one month to submit its report, has its membership drawn from all the security services, the Presidency and the office of the Solicitor-General of the Federation.
Speaking at the inauguration, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, said the long term objective of the police week celebrations is to bridge the increasingly widening gap between the public and the police and give positive connotation to the popular, saying, that the “Police is your friend.”
In his words: “We are determined to introduce projects that will correct all misconception and stereotypes attached to the police as an institution while re-assuring the public of our commitment to their security interests as well as our desire to remain accountable to them.
“In this regards, the 2013 Police Week Celebrations will engender improved consciousness on the part of the rank and file of the force on their responsibility for enhancing mutual trust and confidence in their operations and interaction with the public. It is for this reason that we chose ‘Connecting with the People for a more Effective Policing’ as the theme for the celebrations.”