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Decay in Police forensic units mars investigation

...Police Character Certificate goes for N25, 000

THE inability of Nigeria Police Force to unearth perpetrators of heinous crime using contemporary technological tools has been traced to dilapidated forensic units of the force.
Police forensic units in Lagos Abuja and Enugu are science laboratory that ought to deal with the application of science to unearthing investigation thereby procuring infallible proofs and law. By design it ought to employ highly developed technology to uncover scientific evidence relevant to criminal investigation.
These units are expected to manage crime scene by undertaking visit to crime scenes, where the units personnel are expected to take crime scene photograph, make sketch of the scene, search for exhibits, process invisible to be visible and obtain the exhibits for analysis by other units. These units are also to undertake physical examination and chemical analysis of materials using different equipments and/or chemical materials including powders and liquid for their composition.
Aside the above mention these units are also to undertake visual, physical and microscopic examination of biological materials like hairs, fibers, plants, leaves for identification purposes. Under the operational purview of these units is Ballistics; this involves examination of firearms, empty cartridges, shells and bullets for prohibition, state of functionality and identification or matching of shells and/or bullets with suspects firearms.
Serology/DNA Identification and typing of biological materials/stains like blood, semen for their origin. Fingerprints Obtains biometrics and bio-data of suspects into database, conducts search of electronic database for match of prints recovered from crime scenes for identification purpose.
These units are also expected to resolve issues on disputed documents by undertaking examination of documents using different light sources and equipments for forgery, alteration, erasure among others services such issuance of Police Character Certificates.
National Daily investigation reveals that issuance of Police Character Certificate is the only service being carried out at these units.  Police Character Certificates is one of the vital documents required when processing travel visas, though the spirit behind the request for these certificates is to assist other countries ascertain the character of individuals or Nigerian citizens seeking visa to travel to their country.
National Daily investigation revealed that to obtain character certificate police personnel stationed at these units merely physically profile the individual requesting the certificate and charge according. Price ranges between N10, 000 and N40, 000. This is more so as the necessary instruments with which to take and keep proper records of every citizen finger print are not in place.
National Daily's visit to the forensic unit at the force headquarters Alagbon Lagos Annex. Forensic unit personnel were seen standing outside openly sourcing for clients desirous of obtaining police character certificate.
Our investigation reveals that the machines at Alagbon Lagos unit cannot expose any individual who has been involved in a crime, since there is no data bank with which to cross reference finger prints. It is an easy ride for persons with questionable character to go in and get a clean certificate that will show their non involvement in any form of crime as at the time of obtaining the certificate.
Physical presence is no longer required as affluent individuals send the hired hands to obtain police character certificates on their behalf, even Nigerians resident outside the country merely send their agents to Alagbon where they literarily 'buy' these certificates. 
National Daily investigation also shows that Nigerian's resident in other countries, who are desirous of moving to other nation's require character certificates; both from their home countries as well as from the countries where they are presently stationed. In London it cost three British pounds to officially obtain character certificate from the Metropolitan Police, and it is not given by proxy. In Nigeria however there is no official price and it is mostly obtainable using agents.      
A source who spoke to National Daily said “if Federal Government can make the three forensic units to function properly it will be easy to identify criminals across the country even those who have travel out of the country and had committed one offence or the order. But what we have in Nigeria is just a physical Department with the name forensic unit but not functioning for instance people just come and pay huge amount to get their character certified to be of good character without checking if such individual had committed either murder, or had handle gun, or any other form of weaponry in the past.”
National Daily investigation also revealed that the inadequately furnished police forensic units is one of the a major reason why past low and high profile murder cases investigated by the Police across the country over the years could not be resolved as virtually all gruesome murder cases reported to the Police crashed leaving Nigerians wondering the role of the Police in exposing criminals within the society.
It is on record that suspected armed robbers who were paraded by the Police before the media had over time after a respectable time lag turned up at police recruiting exercise and were successfully enlisted into the Nigerian Police Force. This exposes the inefficiency of many investigation Department of the force, forensic units inclusive.
Even as the country is faced with one of its biggest security challenges since it survive the 1966 civil war; the Boko Haram insurgents. Security experts argued that it is time for the creation of a national data bank where biometric details of Nigerians re stored for cross referencing.
National Daily gathered the present Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Abubakar has started putting the Abuja forensic unit in a proper position to deliver on its mandate. This medium learnt the Nigeria Police under IG Abubakar is also extending the gesture to Lagos and Enugu forensic units, but cost has been a huge deterrent and incapacitating factor. Standard forensic laboratory cost huge funds to set up, man and maintain.
The absence of a national biometric data bank and the failure of National Registration Exercise contributed to the operational constraints of forensic units nationwide.

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