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DNA Controversy Rages As Result Excludes Claimant Esther Tanko From Being Biological Mother Of Elijah Tanko

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The Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units in Abuja, on Wednesday was informed by a clinical pathologist that the 16 markers used in analysing DNA samples for contending paternal or maternal issues reveals that Esther Tanko is not the biological mother to Elijah .

This test result has further corroborated an earlier DNA test conducted by the Nigeria police that Esther Tanko is not genetically similar to Elijah.

Dr Isuajah E. Chukwukah, a pathologist with Synlab, made this known to the panel when he read the analysis of the test carried out.

Presenting the result before the Chairman, Justice Suleiman Galadima retd, the pathologist stated that bucal swap samples were collected from both parties.

The bucal swap are cells scrapped from the inner cheeks of a person, “these cells contain the chromosomes, genes, DNA and short tandem repeat which determines the characteristics in life and similarities of persons” he clarified.

In his testimony, Dr Isuajah stated that in analysing the samples 16 markers were used in analysing the similarities between persons.

Reading the result to the 11 man panel, Dr Isuajah said “ the genotype of child and mother did not share similarities in 9 out of the 16 markers”.

He explained further that in every DNA testing there should not be differences in more than three markers.

“Therefore the alleged mother is excluded as the mother of the child” Dr Isuajah concluded his testimony.

After his presentation, one of the panel list Dr. Uju Agomoh, inquired from Dr Isuajah the margin of error in DNA testing.

He responded that there is 0.001% error of margin.

He clarified that for any kind of test there are two stages the pre-analytical which is 70% and analytical and post analytical which makes 30%.

The pre-analytical has to do with collection of samples, that if the source of sample is not tainted then you can be sure of your result.

He gave example with blood, that if one is transfused with another person’s blood and such person is presented for a DNA test, such a person’s result might not be accurate because the blood donor’s white cells may be found in the receiver’s cells.

“We also have what we call quality control in DNA testing, this enables the pathologist know the sex of those ,whose samples were taken by the lab , once that is correct, then the result can be said to be 99.9% accurate” he added.

It could be recalled that on the 18th October, 2021 the panel rejected the DNA result presented by the police and directed the National Human Rights Commission to conduct an Independent DNA test on Elijah.

The Commission constituted a 4 man committee headed by Nduka Ezenwugo, a deputy director in the women and children department. Other members of the committee are Halilu Adamu, Cordelia Aghware and Talatu Dogo.

The Committee, on behalf of the Commission wrote a letter to the Officer in Charge of the Inspector General’s Intelligence Response Team requesting that the IPO in the matter, SP Desmond Abella, to produce the child for the collection of samples for the DNA test.

The Commission informed the Diagnostic centre, Synlab, of its intention to use their facilities and that a relevant professional from the Diagnostic centre be made available to present and interpret the result of the DNA test to the panel.

On the 3rd of November 2021, the following assembled at the Diagnostic center; members of the committee, the IPO, the petitioner and the child.

Earlier, Rosemary Diakeocha, another claimant to the maternity of Elijah through her counsel, Kevin Emeka Okoro, pleaded to be joined as party to the petition, though not a party to the petition abinitio.

The panel rejected the request and directed she remain as an observer.
After the delivery of DNA report which did not favour the petitioner, Kevin Emeka Okoro persuaded the panel to hand over the boy to Rosemary Diakeocha since the earlier DNA test conducted by the police revealed that she is the biological mother.

The panel in its ruling stated that following: the disclosure by Dr Isuajah of the DNA result which excludes Esther Tanko as the mother, the matter has been referred to the Commission for appropriate action.

The Chairman commended the IPO, Desmond Abella, for being like a father to Elijah. He further acknowledged the police for their diligence in the matter.

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