Persons with disabilities protesting with the Centre for Citizens for Disability (CCD) against alleged non-implementation of the Disabilities Act in Abuja …yesterday. PHOTO: NAN

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, was yesterday forced to invite the leadership of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) for a secret meeting after an hour of demonstration at his office in Abuja.

Mustapha’s message came when the PWDs insisted on scaling the fence into the building if he failed to come out of his office to address them.

Director of General Services at the SGF’s office, Umar Musa, who brought the message, appealed to the protesters to leave the main gate of the office, as the continuous siege to it was obstructing movement of vehicles in and out of the building.

Led by the Executive Director of Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), David Anyaele, the PWDs besieged the main entrance of the building to demand immediate establishment of a disability commission to address the needs of PWDs in the country.

The Guardian reported that President Muhammadu Buhari made the disability community in the country to heave sigh of relief when on January 17, 2019 he assented to the bill, which was made public on January 23.

Addressing newsmen during the protest, Anyaele accused the SGF of being a barrier to the full implementation of the bill, adding that non-implementation of the bill was holding over 25 million Nigerians with different disabilities down.

According to Anyaele, the Act provided for: protection of PWDs against discrimination and cruelty, access to public building, protection at risky situations and humanitarian emergencies.

He continued: “Also, the law provided for the right of children with disabilities to health, education, work and employment, right to drive, communicate, communal life, participation in cultural life and recreation.

“PWDs are giving the SGF 10 minutes to come out and address them. They will scale through the fence to see the SGF if he fails to come out.”

He asked the SGF to advise the president to set up a commission for persons with disabilities.

“From now till the next one week, we are asking Boss Mustapha to set up the commission in line with the provision of the discrimination against persons with disabilities.

“SGF is aware that we are coming. We invite him to come and explain to us why we should continue to suffer when the president has signed the Act.

“Last time, the SGF said he was not aware. Now, we are here to inform, educate and sensitise him on the provisions of the Act,” he added.

The outcome of the closed-door meeting between PWDs and the SGF could not be ascertained as at the time of filing this report.

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