Group Launches Global Petition on Disability Rights


Evelyn Okakwu

An international group, Sight Savers Nigeria, has organised an online petition aimed at canvassing massive support for the implementation of the Nigerian Disability Act, signed in January.

The group, with its headquarters In the United Kingdom, says its petition is part of a core goal to ensure the recognition of the rights of disabled people.

In a press briefing on Tuesday by its country director, Sunday Isiyaku, the group said it was introducing the online petition as part of a global “equal world” campaign intended to ensure that physically challenged people or persons living with disabilities are recognized as provided by the act.

“When the Nigerian disability act is implemented, Children with disabilities will have access to school through the implementation of inclusive education system, youth and women with disabilities will have equal rights and opportunities to formal employment, participate and enjoy economic, social and political opportunities in the country.”

Citing the United Nations estimate of people living with disabilities across the world, Mr Isiyaku said 15 per cent of the world’s population have one form of disability or the other.

“The charity’s equal world campaign is to change the fact that in many countries, people with disabilities experience high levels of discrimination that prevent them from taking part in society.

“This discrimination is an injustice on over 20 million Nigerians with disabilities,” Mr Isiyaku said.

He added that the proposed petition has two goals: namely, “that the United Nations ensures that its recently published disability strategy is implemented effectively. And that the federal government ensures the full implementation of the recently signed law.”

In its additional statement, the association’s campaign director, Tessa Murphy said the program is aimed at informing governments all over the world that the long-standing disregard for the rights of people with disabilities will not be condoled further.

As part of the online campaign, the group said the program is targeted at the following countries: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, Guinea, India, Ireland, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.

According to Mr Isiyaku, the petition’s signatures will be collected between June and September.

He added that the petition will later be handed over to the UN to coincide with the UN General assembly to be held in September.

Signed in January, the Act prohibits all forms of discrimination against persons with disability. If an individual is found violating this law, he/she will pay a fine of N100, 000 or a term of six months imprisonment.

The law also imposes a fine of one million naira on corporate bodies, among others.