Persons with disabilities in Nigeria now have a new lease of life with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the long-delayed Discrimination against persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 during the week.
The new law will henceforth criminalise common discrimination against persons with disabilities in the country.
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), in a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, hailed the new development, paying tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari and his Administration for getting the law off the ground after its frustration by the Obasanjo and Jonathan governments.
The organization welcomed the special attention given to the welfare and well-being of the citizens who had endured the pains and neglect imposed on them by their conditions over the years.
The BMO also expressed the feeling that the law will create new employment opportunities for various professionals in the country, by virtue of the expectations from those who will implement its provisions.
The Act prohibits all forms of discrimination on grounds of disability and imposes fines of N1 million for corporate bodies and N100, 000 or a term of six months imprisonment concurrently for individuals violating the law.
Quoting from the law, the BMO said: “ It guarantees the right to maintain civil action for damage by the person injured against any defaulters. It provides for a five years transitional period within which public buildings, structures or automobiles are to be modified to be accessible to and useable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs.”
Other provisions of the law include the following:
· No public structure may be erected without first scrutinizing its plan by the relevant authority to ensure that the building conforms to the building code.
· Discrimination is prohibited in public transportation facilities and service providers are to make provision for the physically, visually and hearing impaired and all persons however challenged. This applies to seaports, railways and airports facilities.
· The law further directs that “all public organisations are to reserve at least five percent (5%) of their employment opportunities for these persons.” A national commissioner for persons with disabilities is also established under the law, with an executive secretary as the head.