By Kazeem Ugbodaga
The Lagos State Government, in collaboratin with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, NITA, United States, has begun a five-day training on Forensic Evidence and Expert Witness for 70 lawyers of the Office of the Public Defender, OPD, in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
The training which kicked off on Monday will end on Friday. The training is currently ongoing at the OPD office in Surulere area of Lagos.
State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem said with the realization that there was need to be on the cutting edge with regards to detection and prosecution of crimes, the state government recently established the first ever DNA and Forensic Laboratory in Nigeria.
The Attorney General, who was represented by the Director, Public Advice Centre, Tola Akinsanya said the collaborative effort between OPD and NITA would definitely be complementing the stride of the state government.
The Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Funlola Odunlami said despite the strides recorded by the OPD in the past, there was need for constant self-improvement to ensure that counsel assigned to the office develop and acquire new skills and were prepared to provide effective and efficient legal representation at par with international standards as the legal system in Nigeria grew, changed and improved.
Odunlami, who was represented by the Director, Commercial Law, Biola Oseni added that the training was particularly pertinent as litigation in Lagos State was on an upward trajectory with the opening of the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre, a development that would ensure that prosecution could now have the added advantage of forensic science to link perpetrators to the evidence tendered before the court.
Director, OPD, Bukola Salami said it was the expectation of government that the training would assist the lawyers to understand the part science and forensic played in advocacy and to become better lawyers both inside and outside the classroom, adding that “we hope that the training will inspire confidence and improve our capacity as defence counsel.”
She stated that as defence counsel, the OPD lawyers would strive to raise and improve on their advocacy skills, adding that as defence counsel faced with cases of murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, among others, every day understanding the use of forensic in evaluating the evidence before the court to prove the innocence or guilt of a defendant was imperative.
Team leader of NITA, Judge Ann Williams said the training would sharpen the skills of the lawyers on forensic evidence and expert witness, adding that the lawyers would be trained on fingerprint detection, how to handle issued of rape, among others.