A former special adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, has said the Discrimination Against Persons living with Disability Act, 2019 has made it difficult for people to discriminate against persons living with disabilities because it is now a punishable offence.
Uwais, at the 2019 Disability summit and career fair organised by Theseabilities Foundation in Lagos on Tuesday, said the new law signed by President Muhammadu Buhari in February prohibits all forms of discrimination against persons living with disabilities.
She said the law was aimed at achieving full integration of the PWDs into the society and would establish the National Commission for Persons with Disability to cater for the socio-economic rights of the PWDs.
“Salient provisions of the Act are worthy of mention. First, it criminalises discrimination against any person on grounds of disability and imposes a fine of N1m on corporate offenders and N100,000 or six months imprisonment or both on individual offenders.
“This is without prejudice to the rights of the aggrieved person to institute a civil cause of action against the offender regardless of whether the criminal prosecution resulted in a conviction or acquittal,” Uwais said.
The Chairman of the Foundation, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, said the roles of the public and private sectors must be harmonised in giving equal opportunities to persons living with disabilities.
He said the Foundation would continuously work with all relevant stakeholders to provide platforms and services to improve the quality of lives of people living with disabilities.
He added that the Act provides that all public physical structures must be fitted with lifts, ramps, road sidewalks and other accessibility aids to enable access on an equal basis.
The Chairman of PUNCH Nigeria Limited, Mrs Angela Emuwa, encouraged parents of children with special needs never to give up on them.
Emuwa said by exposing children with special needs to sporting activities and vocational training, they could also live to fulfill their potential.