The Rights of people living with Disabilities in Nigeria
A person living with a disability can be defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment, which has substantial and long-term effect on their abilities to carry out day-to-day activities. In Nigeria, the World Health Organisation estimates that there are about 25 million persons with disabilities and this constitutes approximately 20% of the country’s total population.
Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution provides for the right to freedom from discrimination based on ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion. However it does not make any reference to persons with disabilities, the constitution did not make specific provisions regarding the right of persons with disability. The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 (DAPD), is therefore the primary law which addresses this issue.
In this article we highlight a few important provisions of the DAPD in Nigeria.
The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and imposes sanctions including fines and prison sentences on those who contravene it.
It also stipulates a five-year transitional period for modifying public buildings, structures, and automobiles to make them accessible and usable for people with disabilities.
The law establishes a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), responsible for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to housing, education, and healthcare.
The NCPD is empowered to receive complaints of rights violations and support victims to seek legal redress amongst other duties.
All public organisations are to reserve at least five per cent of employment opportunities for these persons.
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.
If accommodation is provided by schools for their students, employers for their employee, service providers for their customers, organisations for their members, government for the people and in any other circumstances whatsoever, persons with disabilities shall be given first consideration.
All employees of labour in public organisations shall, as much as possible, have persons with disabilities constituting at least 5% of their employment.
The enactment of the DAPD is only a first step in the protection of the rights of people living with disabilities in Nigeria, authorities should now put effective measures in place for its full implementation to ensure equal treatment and participation of people with disabilities across Nigeria.
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