Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Ita Enang, in a statement explained that, the act prohibits all forms of discrimination on the grounds of disability and imposes fine of N1, 000, 000 on corporate bodies and N100, 000 on individuals or a term of six months imprisonment for violation. It guarantees the right to maintain civil action for damage by the person injured against any defaulter.
The act also 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.
He said the act further provides: “Before erecting any public structure, its plan shall be scrutinised by the relevant authorities to ensure that the plan conforms with the building code.
“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.
“An 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.’’
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 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 five percent of employment opportunities for these persons.
“The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities is also established in Section 31 with an executive secretary as the head.”