THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITY IN NIGERIA
A disabled person can be defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment, which has substantial and long-term effect on his abilities to carry out day-to-day activities. In Nigeria, the World Health Organisation estimates that there are about 19 million persons with disabilities and this constitutes approximately 20 per cent of the country’s total population.
A person can become disabled from birth through genetic conditions, neurological conditions, infectious diseases, accidents, factory waste exposure, to mention but a few. From time immemorial, persons with disabilities have suffered discrimination from loved ones and the society. Consequent of the stigma attached to the birth of disabled babies, some people end up dumping their babies either in the bush, near a stream, orphanage or a motherless baby’s home.
In spite of Section 42 of the constitution which provides for the right to freedom from discrimination based on ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion but made no reference to persons with disabilities, the constitution did not make specific provisions regarding the right of persons with disability
However, during Gen. Babangida’s defunct military rule, a Decree titled “Nigerian with disabilities Decree 1993” was purportedly promulgated. The law provided that the disabled persons shall be guaranteed equal treatment with able bodied Nigerians. However the search for this Decree proved abortive as the Decree was not listed in the current laws of the Federation of Nigeria
In addition to the societal discrimination that disabled persons encounter, access to public facilities still calls for concern. Most public buildings in Nigeria are not designed and built for ease of access of persons with disabilities for further reading . The UN Convention on Rights of disabled persons makes provision for accessibility to buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing and medical facilities and workplaces. The Convention establishes global benchmark for disabled people’s rights in all spheres of life.
It is recommended that Laws be enacted to protect disabled persons, expressly stipulating their rights which accords them equal treatment with other citizens irrespective of the nature of disability. Furthermore, the UN Convention on Rights of persons with Disabilities should be ratified and domesticated in Nigeria.
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