On Thursday, March 23, 2023, the Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI), an advocacy group for disability rights, received support and funding from the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), an international organization headquartered in Boston, USA, that promotes the rights of individuals with disabilities worldwide. They conducted an advocacy visit to the Justice Minister, Disability Rights Commission, and the High Court Chief Judge in Nasarawa State.


Mr. Okoroafor Alexander Uchechukwu spoke about the purpose of the visit, which was to gain the support and commitment of the Justice Minister, Disability Rights Commission, and High Court Chief Judge in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities, specifically women and girls with disabilities. The aim was to promote the effective implementation of the Nasarawa State Disability Law.


Barr Mary Musa, a member of the VDI team, discussed the implementation of the State Disability Law. She explained that the law provides a 5-year transition period for ministries, departments, agencies, and public institutions to meet the requirements of the law. These requirements include ensuring the accessibility of their buildings and providing a 5% disability slot in employment opportunities.


While citing the fact that it is the desire of the team to see the law implemented, she mentioned that failure to comply with these provisions after 5 years allows an affected person with disability instigate a legal action against the erring cooperation or individual to the tune of 1 Million naira (for organizations) and N100 thousand naira (for individuals) respectively.


Barr Mary Musa expressed the team’s desire to see the State Disability Law effectively implemented. She also mentioned that failure to comply with the provisions of the law after the 5-year transition period could result in a legal action being taken against the non-compliant organization or individual by the affected person with a disability. The amount of compensation that can be awarded is 1 million naira for organizations and 100,000 naira for individuals.


Mrs. Asaba Averson, another member of the VDI team, expressed her dissatisfaction with the slow progress of activities within the Disabled commission. She stated that putting individuals without disabilities in charge of the affairs of persons with disabilities often results in poor outcomes. Mrs. Averson also noted that the commission has not had an accessible building since its establishment, and although efforts are said to be underway, progress has been slow. She emphasized that advocacy for accessibility should start with the Disabled commission to set a good example for others to follow.


The Commissioner of Justice, Professor Abdulkarim Kana, warmly welcomed the VDI team and expressed his commitment to the well-being of persons with disabilities, as well as complying with the provisions of the Disability law. The Ministry has even employed a lawyer, Barr Abdul Elayo, as part of its staff to aid in this endeavor. In response to Mrs. Averson’s complaints, the Commissioner gave a copy of the Nasarawa State disability law to Barr. Abdul Elayo, urging him to familiarize himself with its provisions and ensure its full implementation.


Expressing concern for the safety of the Disability Commission, the Commissioner stated that he disliked the location of the commission due to its proximity to the INEC office, which is prone to election-related violence, civil protests, and demonstrations. He instructed Mrs. Averson, who works at the civil service office, to meet with the Head of the Civil Service and draft a letter to the SSG of Nasarawa State requesting a change of location for the Disability Commission. The Commissioner requested that he be copied on the letter so that he could follow up on the matter as well.


Discussing the inclusivity of Nasarawa State, the Commissioner highlighted the accomplishments of the immediate past Governor, Hon. Tanko Al-Makura during his term. He specifically noted the establishment of three standard special schools in Nasarawa State that offer free comprehensive education to all students. The Commissioner also stated that the disability-friendly practices established by the ex-Governor are maintained and sustained by all government agencies and institutions in Nasarawa State.


Emphasizing the importance of the advocacy visit, Mr. Okoroafor shared the disturbing story of an 89-year-old blind woman who was repeatedly raped by a politician seeking fortification. The politician not only raped her but also inserted dangerous objects into the woman’s private parts in an attempt to harm her. Thankfully, the perpetrator was apprehended and justice was served.


Mr. Okoroafor also brought up the case of a 15-year-old deaf girl who was gang-raped in Obi local government area of Nasarawa State. He highlighted the efforts of VDI in addressing the case and stressed the importance of following up to ensure that justice is served.


The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice on learning it happened in Nasarawa State immediately called a division of the Nasarawa State Police command, and they confirmed the incident stating that preliminary investigations are ongoing, he also assigned the Chairperson of FIDA who is also in charge of the GBV response team to carry out proper findings and keep him updated on the case. He promised to do the needful according to all that is enshrined in the Nasarawa State Disability law.


Upon learning that the incident happened in Nasarawa State, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice took immediate action by contacting a division of the Nasarawa State Police Command. The police confirmed the incident and reported that preliminary investigations were underway. The Commissioner also assigned the Chairperson of FIDA, who is responsible for the GBV response team, to conduct a thorough investigation and keep him updated on the case. He promised to take necessary action in accordance with the provisions of the Nasarawa State Disability law.

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