In a bid to make the Court accessible to all persons, including persons with disabilities, and to increase greater access to justice, Courts in Nigeria, including the ECOWAS Court, and other legal institutions, have begun to restructure their premises to include ramps.
The NBA Secretariat, the National Industrial Court Headquarters, and the ECOWAS Court Headquarters all domiciled in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have restructured their premises to include ramps. In a similar development, the Federal High Court Headquarters, also in the FCT, Abuja, went a step further to assign special parking lots to Persons with disabilities.
All these developments followed the advocacy engagements of the Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria (ALDIN) with the heads of the various Courts and institutions where the leadership of the Association raised concerns as to the inaccessibility of Nigerian Courts and legal institutions for persons with disabilities.
This was part of the ALDIN’s Project on Accessibility of Justice System in Nigeria to Persons with Disabilities with support from the Disability Rights Fund (DRF). By providing ramps and specialised parking lots in their premises for persons with disabilities, the above institutions have complied with certain provisions of the disability law.
Recently, Nigeria passed the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act to take care of the special circumstances or peculiarities of persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
The disability law made far-reaching provisions aimed not just at enhancing the social status of all persons with disabilities in Nigeria, but also increasing their accessibility to public facilities and/or social and physical amenities, including Courts. Among other things, the law requires that all public buildings which are hitherto inaccessible to persons with disabilities, or which would subsequently be built, must be made accessible to persons with disabilities by including suitable and appropriate ramps or such other facilities that would make it easier and safe for persons with disabilities to be able to access such public buildings.
While the members of the ALDIN express their satisfaction to the various heads of Courts and the President of the NBA and for leading the charge to make Nigerian public institutions accessible to all, they are also calling on all other courts to follow suit to ensure that the provision of the disability law in this respect is implemented to the maximum benefit of persons with disability in Nigeria.