Physically-challenged persons protest at National Assembly

Police addressing protesters

A group of physically challenged persons on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly to protest and demand employment.

The group, Association of Physically Challenged Applicants, said they want the lawmakers, to put an end to the discrimination that they face.

The Senate passed the Disability Bill in 2016 The bill has not yet been signed into law.

Few days ago, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, assured that the National Assembly would transmit the Disability Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari within 30 days for assent.

Part of the present Bill makes provision for the prohibition of discrimination and harmful treatment towards physically-challenged, and an offender is liable to a fine of N1 million for corporate organisations or N100, 000 for individuals; and six months imprisonment or both.

It also provides for accessibility to physical structures and makes it mandatory for public buildings, roads, walkways and others to be constructed in such a way that a person with disability can access them.

The bill also prohibits the act of using a person with disability for alms begging.

Speaking with journalists, Godstime Onyebulam, the president of the association, said they were graduates from different tertiary institutions.

“We are here to express our anger towards marginalisation being given to disabled graduates. We are graduates of different fields. We went to the same tertiary with able persons and I know we spent more when it comes to academic expenses, yet we are being marginalised by giving 2 per cent into the federal ministry,” he said.

“We are completely discriminated when it comes to any uniformed service like the police, civil defence, immigration and so on. Even as much as we know that we can fit it into some of their departments like teaching, education, administration and intelligence department.

“But we are still completely discriminated (against). So we want employment majorly, that is why we are here. We want the National Assembly to send our names to the Federal Civil Commission because I know they have the constitutional power to do that. We do not want to beg.”

He lamented that they had been ignored and insulted by ”some of the lawmakers and officers at the National Assembly”.

“Hon Ossai Ossai has been asking us to come this week or next week. We pay our transportation fare from different states. None of us stay in Abuja here and (for) our entire visit, they have not even given us fare back. It was just the last time we came that they gave N2,000 for 4 of us. What will N2,000 do for four people?

“I came from Imo with N6,000, the hotel I lodged, I paid N3,000. Currently now we should be over 40. This one came from Maiduguri this morning, the other one came from Kano, we have (persons from) Rivers, Delta, Jos, Enugu, Anambra, Kebbi, Katsina, Ekiti, Ondo, Lagos. Some are still on the road and are coming.

“No legislator has been here to attend to us. I think it is as a result of the (Police) DPO here. In fact, he has not been friendly. I think he is the reason why we are still here. He has called us names like ‘useless’ and assured us that he will make things more difficult for us by not sending our letters.”

An officer, Sulu Gambari, who tried to calm the protesters only got them more enraged.

The protesters were not attended to at the time of filing this report.


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