HOW TO CONDUCT PATERNITY/MATERNITY TEST (DNA TEST) ON A CHILD WITH/WITHOUT CONSENT OF PARENTS.* Daily Law Tips (Tip 507) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

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“Deoxyribonucleic acid” (DNA) test is not alien to Nigeria and Nigerians. When there is dispute relating to paternity or maternity, scientific tests like DNA test becomes necessary. DNA is often used to determine roots of a child. However, it is only in rare cases that father/mother and disputants will both agree and seek for DNA test in Nigeria. So, the problem to be solved here is, how to legally conduct DNA test on a child in Nigeria, even where spouse/parents disagrees with such.

“DNA test” is used here to represent all types and kinds of scientific test and blood test for determination of paternity/maternity. The first step is to engage the services of a legal practitioner. A legal practitioner upon receipt of brief of his client can proceed to file proper processes in a High Court seeking for paternity/Maternity test. The Court upon hearing applications and counters/objections (if any), may grant an order for DNA paternity/maternity test to be carried out on a child, blood and other samples to be taken from the child and any other party.

Where the child is less than 18 years old, the Court must also state who must carry out the said medical test. Once a court orders for DNA test to be carried out, the test result must be sent to the court alone and NOT to any other person. Any other person that desires to have such test result must first apply to court. Cost of DNA test must be paid by the person that sought for such test.

After test for determination of paternity or maternity is sent to court, the court will declare the biological father/mother of the child as the authentic/real father/mother based on the evidence before it. Where any party before the court does or fails to do anything to frustrate or deny consent for DNA test, the court would assume that the DNA test was performed and that the result is not in favour of such uncomplying party.

Note that, even after a court orders for DNA test to be performed,

1. Consent to obtain sample must be sought and obtained from child that is 16 years old and above.

2. Consent of child that is less than 16 years old is not needed before sample can be taken rather the consent of the adult that has care and control of the child must be sought and obtained.

3. Where a child is 18 years old or more but is not mentally stable, the consent of the person having his care and control must be sought and obtained as well as that of the medical practitioner taking care of such child.

“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 MBABA ,J.C.A ( Pp. 18-20)

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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