Following the on-going Governorship and States House of Assembly Elections commenced today 18, March, 2023 in Nigeria, Equal Voting Access for Persons with Disabilities (EVAPWD), a program of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has released its observations on the provisions made by INEC for persons with disabilities’ participation in the election; and raise awareness on equal voting rights for citizens with disabilities. It also used the opportunity to assess the election management body’s compliance to the provisions of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, section 54 of the Electoral Act 2022, INEC Framework on Access and Participation of Persons with Disabilities, and the Nigeria Constitution 1999 as amended.
The Chairman of EVAPWD, David O. Anyaele in the press release, appreciated INEC Ad-hoc Officials for providing priority voting to persons with disabilities (PWDs), the aged, nursing mothers and pregnant women across majority of the Polling Units.
The group observed that significant Polling Units observed were accessible to voters with physical disabilities. This means that INEC placed a significant number of PUs open fields and ballot boxes on the floor for those on wheelchairs and other clusters of disabilities.
EVA4PWD said it “unsurprisingly observed that physically challenged voters struggled to access a significant number of Polling Units visited. The Polling Units were sited on high pavements, the cubicles were not accessible to PWDs and the ballot boxes were placed on high tables and platforms. What this means is that voters with physical disability would be discouraged to go to this hard to access environment to cast their votes.
“We observed scanty deployment of Braille guides in some polling units. There were no assistive devices observed in the majority of Polling Units visited.
“Obviously, Form EC40H were available in visited Polling Units. But the form was observed at Polling Unit 15, Sulemian Model Primary School, Kankia, Katsina State. Form EC40H is used by INEC to document number of voters with disabilities that voted at a particular Polling Unit, Ward, LGA, State and a cross the Federation.
EVA4PWD expressed disappointment at INEC with the level of security so far provided by the security agencies. It said there were no security operatives available in some polling units, furthermore, there were high level of threats and suppression of voters in some polling units.
The group however, commended INEC and other election stakeholders for conducting the elections after earlier postponement.
It noted that a good number of Polling Units were accessible, even as most of the Polling Units observed were not accessible.
“INEC ad-hoc Staff ensured that PWDs and other vulnerable groups enjoyed priority at most of the Polling Units visited. Regrettably, there was poor deployment of assistive devices such as Braille guides, shade and magnifying glasses to various Polling Units”.