Buhari signs disability bill into law, criminalises discrimination

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act into law.

President Muhammadu Buhari

The president's assent of the bill was disclosed by his Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, on Wednesday, January 23, 2019.

The act criminalises all forms of discrimination against people living with disabilities in the country and enforces their rights and privileges to education, healthcare, priority in accommodation and emergencies.

It prohibits discrimination against the physically challenged in public transportation facilities, including seaports, railways and airports, and compels service providers to make adequate provisions for them.

All public organisations are also required to reserve at least 5% of employment opportunities for people living with disabilities.

Enang's statement read, "This Act 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 violation concurrently.

"It guarantees right to maintain civil action for damage by the person injured against any defaulter.

"It provides for a five-year transitional period within which public buildings, structures or automobiles are to be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs.

"Before erecting any public structure, its plan shall be scrutinized by the relevant authority 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 5% of employment opportunities for these persons. The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities is also established in Section 31 with Executive Secretary as the head."

The president's assent of the bill comes just a week after the president and vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, claimed that the bill had not been forwarded to the Presidential Villa by the National Assembly.

The National Assembly transmitted the bill to the presidency in December 2018.

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