President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday signed into law a legislation that will henceforth criminalise common cases of discrimination against persons with disabilities, according to Ita Enang, the president’s National Assembly liaison who announced the assent on Wednesday night.
The signing comes days after Buhari accused lawmakers of not passing the bill during a town hall appearance with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
But lawmakers rejected the claim, saying they passed the law since 2018 and submitted it to the president for assent. A document later circulated on social media showing that the State House acknowledged receipt of the bill.
Enang explained that the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act would see corporate entities and individuals face excruciating sanctions if found guilty of discriminating against persons with impairments.
“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,” he said.
“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 automobile are to be modified to be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, including those on wheelchairs,” the official added.
Other key elements of the new law are as follows:
“Before erecting any public structure, its plan shall be scrutinised 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.”