President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) finally signs the law on Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities in the country.
The Law, Discrimination Against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018, forbids all forms of discrimination against all Peoples with any form of disability and seeks to impose fines ranging from N100, 000 for individuals to N1, 000, 000 for corporate bodies and or a term of six months imprisonment for violation.
The Law also concurrently guarantees right to maintain a civil action for damage by the person injured against any defaulter.
In a statement signed by Presidential Liaison to the National Assembly – Senate, Ita Enang, the Act provides for a five-year transitional period within which all public buildings, structures or automobile are to be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs.
The Act equally makes it mandatory for all building plans for government and public buildings to be erected henceforth to be scrutinised by relevant authorities to ensure compliance and conformity with disability friendly facilities and structures according to Building Code.
In the Spirit of the Law, “A government or government agency, body or individual responsible for the approval of building plans shall not approve the plan of a public building if the plan does not make provision for accessibility facilities in line with the building code.
“An officer who approves or directs the approval of a building plan that contravenes the building code commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of at least N1, 000, 000 or a term of imprisonment of two years or both.’’
The statement also states that discrimination against Persons with Disabilities is prohibited in public transportation facilities and service providers are to make provision for the physically, visually and hearing impaired and all persons howsoever is challenged. This applies to Seaports, Railways and Airport facilities.
The rights and privileges include education, healthcare, priority in accommodation and emergencies, it said.
Furthermore, all public organisations are to reserve at least 5 % of employment opportunities for these persons.
The statement said that the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities is also established in Section 31 with Executive Secretary as the head.
In the immediate reaction of the National Programmes Officer of the National Association for the Blind (NAB), Ejiro Okotie expressed her excitement to Healthstyleplus saying, “We are really glad the the struggle of 12 years has finally come to an end and there is some hope for People living with Disabilities in Nigeria going forward”
It would be recalled that in celebrating the 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) which has the theme: Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality, PWDs in Nigeria had staged Disability March within the Federal Capital Territory urging PMB to sign the Disability Bill to Law.
Similar calls were made at a round table organised by Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) in partnership with Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN) and collaboration with Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs Lagos, where representatives of various clusters of PWDs demanded more inclusion in the governance of the state as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 2030 United Nations (UN) Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”. Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote resilient society for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action, and urban development.