Daily Law Tips (Tip 518) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

AGE AT WHICH COURT CANNOT ORDER FOR “DNA TEST” IN NIGERIA.

Scientific test like “Deoxyribonucleic acid” test (DNA test) is often used to determine paternity and maternity. Also, courts can be approached to order for DNA test to be performed on a person that is even 18 years old in Nigeria. However, there is an age at which a person cannot be ordered to subject self to DNA test.

First of all, “DNA test has to do with the use of genetic analysis, scientifically, to determine the paternity of a child, i.e, whose male spermatozoa fertilized the egg of a female, and, I think, this is usually applicable and relevant where there is dispute as to the paternity of a child, or where there is disputing claims or uncertainty as to the paternity of an individual, See the case of Olayinka Vs Adeparusi & Anor (2011) LPELR 8691 CA, where this Court, per Denton West JCA held: “… If a party is claiming paternity, it is trite that a Court of law should be allowed to determine same on proof of evidence relating to paternity, which could only be done by referral for a DNA test of the parties involved. After such test the Court has a duty to declare, the actual father of the child in dispute in consonance with the evidence at its disposal. DNA, that is, “Deoxyribonucleic acid” is a molecule that contains the genetic code of any organism. It is hereditary and has become a euphemism for scientific analysis of genetic Constitution, to determine one’s roots.” Per AKINBAMI ,J.C.A

Now on the issue of possible age limit for ordering DNA test on a person, the court further stated that; “I doubt whether that form of proof can be ordered or is necessary to determine the paternity of a 57 years old man, who does not complain about his parenthood, just to please or indulge a self acclaimed predator, who emerges to distabilize family bonds and posts as a biological father!. I think it is only the 2nd Respondent (a mature adult) that can waive his rights and/or seek to compel his parents (or those laying claim to him) to submit to DNA test to prove his root. Of course, where one is a minor (not mature adult) and his paternity is in issue, the Court can order the conduct of DNA test, in the overall interest of the child, to ascertain where he belongs.” Per MBABA ,J.C.A ( Pp. 18-20, paras. E-B)

My authorities are:

1. Sections 63, 64, 65, 66, 277 and 278 of the Child Rights Act, 2003.

2. The decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of ANOZIA v. NNANI & ANOR (2015) LPELR-24277(CA)

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