By Omole Ibukun, with agency report
FOLLOWING National Record’s investigative report on the non-implementation of the provisions of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, the executive Secretary of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD), James Lalu, has threatened to seal off facilities that do not comply with the Act’s accessibility clauses.
National Record on September 20, 2023 published a detailed investigative report exposing the lack of compliance in line with the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act popularly known as the Disability Act by and the failure of relevant government functionaries, including those directly responsible to ensure compliance within the five-year transition window stipulated in the Act.
While speaking on Wednesday when he received the Director-General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, in Abuja Mr Lalu said the law mandates organisations and other business premises to make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
“Failure to comply, the law also mandated us to seal the organisations through law enforcement agencies… It is no longer an option for organisations to comply with the accessibility laws because we would enforce it.
“Though, the law provides a transition period of five years, that is from January 2019 to January 2024,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported on Wednesday.
Lalu said, the law provided for a national regulation on accessibility in Nigeria to every public building by January 2024 to make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. “Anything short of that, we are mandated by law to go and seal up any facilities that do not comply with the law.
Lalu said NAPTIP is a critical partner towards achieving Nigeria’s desire for equal opportunities for the disability community in Nigeria.
“This is evident in the agency’s conversion of its policy documents into assistive devices especially for blind to enable them get acquainted with the workings of the agency, he said.
He also commended the commitment of the NAPTIP boss towards providing the relevant laws that ensures access to justice for the disability community.
“We remain very grateful to you and we are committed to sanitise the system to guarantee better future for Persons With Disabilities” he said.
In her response, Prof. Waziri-Azi, expressed the deliberate attempt by NAPTIP towards disability inclusion.
She said NAPTIP is determined to ensure effective mainstreaming of the issues of visibility of persons with disabilities into the running of the organisation.
“We are very deliberate about disability inclusivity and about issues of visibility into our everyday work into our everyday processes and also across our five strategic prevention protection competition partnership,” she said, adding that the agency had already made their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities in the last five years.
She said in addition to that, the agency allocated five percent employment opportunities in NAPTIP for Persons with Disabilities.
“I have the drafting team that came up with that and in the past few years we have been able to make our building at the headquarters accessible.
“We have ramps just at the main entrance into the NAPTIP office, we also have ramps in the main building and our rapid response code at the back has also been fitted with a ramp” she said.
She therefore assured the commission of her readiness for partnership to ensure mutual benefit for the two organisations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that, the event featured presentation of some official documents called NAPTIP Red Card, NAPTIP Act, NAPTIP Violence against Persons Prohibition Act.
NAN also reports that, the documents were all converted into readable formats for the blind community in Nigeria.