Following persistent pressures, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday assented to the Discrimination Against Persons with disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018.
The Act establishes a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, which in line with Section 31, of the Act, shall be headed by an Executive Secretary.
The Act, according to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, ( Senate) Ita Enang, prohibits all forms of discrimination on ground of disability and imposes fine of N1, 000, 000 for corporate bodies and N100, 000 for individuals or a term of six months imprisonment for its violation
The Act also concurrently guarantees right of Persons with disabilities to maintain civil action for damage by the person injured against any defaulter.
In the interim, the Act provides for a five-year transitional period within which 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 further provides that Before erecting any public structure, its plan shall be scrutinized by the relevant authority to ensure that the plan conforms with the building code.
In line with the provisions of the Act, “any 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.”
It also provides that any 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.’’
It further notes that discrimination is prohibited in public transportation facilities and service providers are to make provision for the physically, visually and hearing impaired and all persons howsoever challenged.
This also applies to Seaports, Railways and Airport facilities.
The rights and privileges include education, healthcare, priority in accommodation and emergencies.
Furthermore, all public organisations are to reserve at least 5 % of employment opportunities for these persons.
Tony Ailemen, Abuja