Mr. Ayodele Adeniyi, is the Chief Operating Officer of DNA Paternity Test Nigeria on Bamigbose Street, Lagos. The centre is affiliated to DDC Laboratory, Ohio, United States of America.
The young man told ENCOMIUM Weekly in this exclusive interview the goings on in DNA business in Nigeria and how paternity has brought joy to some families and sorrow to others.
When did you start your DNA business in Nigeria?
It was in November 2009.
What informed your going into the business of DNA?
I had a friend who had a personal experience. Three women came forward to claim that he was the father of their children. He had to tell his wife and because of this he lost his wife. But when he did DNA test, none of the four children were his.
I saw my friend in excruciating pains. He lost his marriage and his money. The DNA was done in the UK. That got me thinking that there must be a solution to the issue of paternity in Nigeria. Any woman can claim you are the father of her children. There must be a way to ascertain this.
Was there no DNA centre in Nigeria then?
There was one. That was Path Care Laboratory. But they had a way of doing things which did not suit everybody.
What exactly was Path Care doing which you didn’t like?
The father, the mother and the child must submit their passports to the laboratory (Path Care). They were very officious.
What exactly happened to your friend?
My friend was married and also had a number of girlfriends. Three of his girlfriends got pregnant and claimed he was responsible. So, the stress was too much on him and he had to tell his wife about one of them. His wife was not too happy about that and she left him. But when he did the DNA test, none of the children were his.
So, how did this lead you to establishing a DNA centre?
I got in contact with a DNA laboratory in America and formed a partnership with them.
What is the name of the DNA centre in America and where is it located?
It is called DDC and they are based in Ohio, USA.
What has been your experience in operating a DNA centre?
When we started, we didn’t have a brand name. so, we had to start at Juli Pharmacy. From there, we started building our own name on the internet. So, people started coming to Juli Pharmacy to look for us. We rode on the back of Juli Pharmacy, Ikeja, Lagos, to stand on our own.
Who are your clients?
From the people on the street to very important people who just want to be very discreet. They all present different cases. We have married men who want to test the paternity of their children to those who want to confirm the claim of his mistress or girlfriend. It varies.
What is the process of DNA test in your centre?
Because of the technology that has changed so much, the lab we use allows us to use saliva swab.
What is saliva swab?
We put a stick like the cotton bud that you use to clean the wax in your ears in the mouth, inside the teeth and you rub it against the cheeks. It takes saliva and soft cell from the cheek. That is what we take to the States for the DNA test lab.
In your own case it does not involve blood sample?
No, we don’t take blood because blood can be contaminated.
How long does it take to get the result?
How much does it cost to do a DNA test in your centre?
It depends on your location. We are in every state of the federation. We do different tests, like grandparents test, siblings test. We sometimes use semen from condom, tooth brushes, mucus, hair samples. It depends on what type of test that is required.
How much does all these tests cost?
It can be as low as N35,000 and as high as N250,000 depending on the type of test that is needed to be done.
Is it only paternity that DNA test is all about?
We do DNA profiling, we do DNA for embassies. Majority of the DNA have to do with paternity. We don’t do forensic DNA. 98 percent of our business is peace of mind test.
What do you mean by that?
They want to do it secretly. They don’t want lawyers, doctors or any witness. They just want to know if they are the father or not. 95 percent of my clients are men. Aside the fact that the men usually have the financial means, they are the major participants in the issue of paternity.
Does that mean women also seek DNA test?
Yes. The only time women do it is when it has to do with inheritance or when they want to prove their innocence. The key participant in paternity is the father.
What has been the success rate?
It all depends on what you mean by success here. If the test proves you are the father, you are happy. If it proves you are not the father, it is a disappointment. If you are married and you discover that the child is not yours, that is a disappointment.
If on the other hand you are married and you had extramarital affairs and you discovered that the child is not yours, you will be happy.
How many of the legally married couples that their children have failed the DNA test?
About 65 percent of married couples pass their DNA test. In every three cases, one will fail the DNA test from our own experience.
Has there been an occasion where all the three children failed the DNA test?
No, I have not had such occasion.
From your personal experience, will you say DNA has revealed the level of promiscuity among Nigerian women?
It depends on what the situation is. You know moving from one boyfriend to another. Things happen in relationships. So, I cannot say whether the women are promiscuous or not. A lot of them come from the men who want the girls to get pregnant before they can marry them.
A girl who just left a relationship for another and discovered she is pregnant a month after may not even know who is actually responsible between the two men.
But the new boyfriend who is eager to get married because his girlfriend is pregnant may later discover that he is actually not the father of the child. We have a lot of people from the military who do paternity test with us. Military men are most times not around and they come back home to discover their wives are pregnant.
Is it true that paternity test has shown that most first borns fail DNA tests?
It is possible.
From your own experience did you have such situation where most of the first borns failed DNA tests?
We don’t have such data because most of our tests are one father, one child. So, I cannot really say whether a particular child is first born or not.
Will you say DNA business is lucrative in Nigeria?
It is very challenging because there are no DNA labs in Nigeria. All the samples are shifted out of the country. Although there has been a surge of people who want to do a DNA test but because of the exchange rate of naira to dollar, it has made it increasingly very hard for them to do.
Will you say business has been very good?
Yes. It’s been better this year. We have clients all over Nigeria now. What we do is to move to our clients wherever they are to collect their samples. Whether you are in Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Kano, wherever, we will come to you.
Can you give us a conservative figure of the people that you have done paternity tests for?
Up to date. Yes. It should be around 300.
Out of that 300, how many passed and how many failed the paternity test?
Like I said, 65 percent are the biological fathers while 35 percent are not the biological fathers. In every three situations, one will fail. That is in every three fathers, one is not the biological father.
How big is your DNA centre?
You have to remember that we are a DNA collection centre. We collect the DNA and shift everything in batches to America for testing. We do not do the testing in Nigeria.
What is your staff strength?
We are currently a team of three.
Did you study medicine or any medical science course?
What did you study?
How old are you?
I am 40.