#BounceExclusive: Why Is It So Difficult To Convict Criminals In Nigeria?
Recently, the internet went crazy when a man and a woman, both half-naked were found dead in a saloon car in Ogba area of Lagos.
It got bigger when it was revealed that they were both married to other partners and were also neighbours.
The story trended for days with several conspiracy theories emerging that the deceased were murdered rather than being victims of the notorious anti-adultery charm magun.
But come to think of it, if this was indeed a case of murder, how would the police be able to solve the crime?
Bounce News got curious, knowing that one of the major tools to solving such mystery is forensic examination of the crime scene, the victims and other relevant variables.
But in a country where the ones we call eyewitness have access to crime scenes and have the sense of entitlement to easily contaminate potential evidences, what happens next?
In a situation where police officers storm crime scenes; picking and dropping items that could be evidences without hand gloves is quite upsetting.
This has been the level of ignorance among Nigerians about the concept of forensic examination.
Forensic science is the application of science to criminal and civil laws, during criminal investigation, as governed by the legal standards of admissible evidence and criminal procedure.
To put this in perspective, imagine how many innocent Nigerians are languishing in jail while many criminals are walking free, due to the inability of law enforcement to properly investigate crimes.
You might have believed sophisticated forensic knowledge and technology are not available in Nigeria, but that is because you have not heard of the Computer Forensics Institute, Nigeria (CFIN).
The CFIN was established in 2008. It has been behind the movement to professionalize the practice of cyber-security, digital and computer forensics in Nigeria.
Particularly of greater urgency is supporting the legal, judicial and law-enforcement agencies in the handling of electronic evidence in litigation.
To top it all, they say they have also been training, developing and certifying digital and computer forensics experts for the country.
So, with all these going on, one would wonder, how come some simple investigations still appear crudely and unintelligently handled particularly by the police and EFCC?
Bounce News spoke to the Founder of the CFIN, Dr Peter Olayiwola, an internationally certified forensic expert and the man who birthed the institute in Nigeria.
He admitted that the mentality of Nigerians and the skill level of law enforcement agents when it comes to forensics is very low.
But while Nigerians wonder what is really wrong with the EFCC, police, NDLEA, NAPTIP, NAFDAC, ICPC and other law enforcement agencies, Dr. Olayiwola knows exactly what their major problems are.
He would know because he has held several meetings, initiated lectures and facilitated trainings for these agencies for some years.
“We are doing a lot for them, but the only thing is that they don’t have the budget that they need and then even when they have money, priorities are misplaced sometimes.
“But we have been working with them since 2013 and last year we certified 50 police officers nationwide. This means that they are certified to stand in court and give forensic evidence.
“And there are plans for us to go to every state in the country to train more police operatives,” he said, giving the assurance that the face of police will change all over the country.
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Reacting to the management of crimes scenes and the preservation of evidences, like the dead couple in Ogba Lagos, he admitted that this will remain a challenge until the country pays more attention to educating citizens.
“The first thing to do is to secure the crime scene but before you know what is happening the evidence is already contaminated even by over-enthusiastic police officers.
“But all those things will be corrected,” he said, as the trainings are expected to be more intensive in 2018.
That is the essence of the state-level training that the police authority in Nigeria has adopted in partnership with the institute, he explained.
“Next year 2018 has been declared the year for digital forensics or the forensics (generally) to become a sector in Nigeria.
“We have the blessing of the Federal Government through the ministry and they have taken us as a baby. So, a lot of (good) things are happening to the institute now,” he said.
The best part of this is that Nigerians who feel they can do a better job can become private forensics experts by signing up for trainings available with the institute.
Fellow Nigerians, this could be one way to reduce the many incidences of miscarriage of justice, long years awaiting trial, criminals walking free and human rights abuses in the country.