The President of The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) , Yakubu Maikyau, SAN said the association under his watch would provide the necessary accessibility facilities and aids for lawyers with disabilities at the Supreme Court and The NBA Secretariat.
He stated this on Tuesday during the 2022 Conference of The Nigerian Bar Association – Lawyers With Disabilities Forum (NBA- LWDF) held in Abuja.
Recall that the theme of the conference is “Lawyer With Disabilities In Nigeria: Realities, Challenges & Expectations”.
Maikyau, who decried the wrong impression and stereotyping towards lawyers with disabilities, called for more advocacy to liberate the minds of the people from such and to focus more on their innate abilities and potentials.
He said: “Am not comfortable with the use of the word disability for lawyers or any human being. The word disability set a limit in the psychic of people that happens to dampen their aspirations, expectations and set limitations to their dreams.
He explained that words influence and create the world, stressing that every time we describe ourselves as disabled, it does no good to us.”
“However, I have seen the resilience of members of this Forum. I have seen purposefulness in what you have done. I can see everything you bring to bear in anything that you do.
“I can see your conviction and persuasions; and put it side by side with what you describe yourselves in this Forum, Imagine if that had been taken away, we would not be where we are today. We would have gone far.
He noted that the NBA remain committed to ensuring the promotion and protection of the rights of millions of Nigerian lawyers living with one form of challenges or the other.
To this end, he said The NBA would demonstrate strict compliance with the National Disability Act seeking for 5% inclusion of persons with disabilities in the association’s committee for next year’s Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-AGC).
On his part, The Executive Secretary of The National Commision for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD), Mr James Lalu, commended NBA- LWDF for organizing its maiden edition conference.
Mr. Lalu also lauded the efforts of lawyers with disabilities in enforcing The Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, which he said can not be over emphasized.
He said: “Even when the Discrimination Against PWD Prohibition Act was passed by the then National Assembly and the Executive Arm of government did not signed it into law, the lawyers with disabilities never relented.
“They pushed so hard and here we are today. Therefore, we will always be grateful to lawyers with disabilities in Nigeria.
“However, we are working on regulations and we are hoping that, as soon as possible we are going to achieve these regulations.
“The regulations make it very clear and provide the standard dimension and necessary measurement for a unified standard facilities that are disability friendly across the country.
“The law provides five years period in which everybody or organisations must adjust to provide accessibility in their own offices and environments,” Lalu said.
Mr. Lalu, however, called on the members of the NBA to ensure that their offices, secretariat, meet with the accessibility standard for lawyers with disabilities in Nigeria.
Earlier, in her remarks, The Secretary, Governing Council of LWDF, Mrs. Patience Etumudon, described the theme of the conference, as apt and timely as it would tackle some of challenges facing the lawyers with disabilities such as negative stereotyping, unemployability status, lack of aids to access public and private facilities and offices, amongst others.
She also stressed the need for the adoption of technologies in enhancing the job delivery of lawyers living with disabilities.
Also, Mrs. Rafiu, Ismail, who represented lawyers with learning disabilities, said the Nigeria’s dyslexia reports indicated that there are over 40 million Nigerians with dyslexia while about 9 million in the workforce are affected with this.
“Part of what we are interested in working with a lot of NGOs is on the need to focus more on learning disabilities and not just the physical disabilities. This is because learning disabilities are not visible. This can only be made known through early detection and testing” Mrs. Ismail said.
She noted that one of the ways to promote the rights of persons with disabilities is to provide more extra time and attentions for such persons taking exams in order to place them side by side with others.