By Chidimma Ajemba
The Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Anambra State Chapter on Wednesday 7 September organised a one-day public presentation of the Abridged Igbo and Pidgin version of Anambra State Disability Rights Law held at Choice Hotel Awka.
In his welcome remarks, the chairman of JONAPWD Anambra, Comrade Ugochukwu Ernest Okeke, stated that the major aim of producing the abridged copy was to make it handy, accessible and easy to read for the usage of the public.
He noted that the significance of the event was anchored on creating more awareness about the law as well as mobilizing support for its speedy implementation.
” The aim of making the copies available in a simplified accessible format is targeted at making sure that the awareness of the law gets to every nook and crannies of the state.
“We have done several advocacies to relevant stakeholders and carried out sensitization programs through radio and television programs with the support gotten from European Union’s RoLAC program in Anambra State – Titled Support for Awareness Creation on the provisions of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Law in Anambra State.
Comrade Okeke gave a brief rundown of how the Anambra State Disability Right Law came to being.
“The demand for the passage of the law known as Anambra State Disability Rights Law was made and followed up for 6 years by the Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) with the support of many other civil society groups, relevant stakeholders and Development partners past and present in Anambra State.
“The law seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities and equalize their opportunities in all aspects of life in society.
“The Anambra State House Assembly on the 13th September 2018 passed Disability Rights bill into law and was assented to by Governor Willie M. Obiano – the most Disability friendly Governor then on the 18th December 2018 putting Anambra State in the first position for being the first and only state in the South East to have a legislation that protects the rights of Persons with Disabilities.
He listed Anambra Disability Rights Law, Construction of ramps at Ihiala and Nnewi North LGA, Inauguration of Disability Rights Commission, Securing 30 minutes of free air on Radio and 30 minutes of free air on Television from the Anambra Broadcasting Services Awka,
Receiving subvention from the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare for the training and empowerment of Persons with Disabilities a few of many milestones and success stories recorded.
He concluded bu appreciating RoLAC immensely for funding the translation and production of abridged versions of 1000 copies of Igbo and 1000 copies of pidgin language of the ASDRL
The State Program Coordinator of Rule of Law and the Anti-Corruption(RoLAC) in Anambra state, Mrs Josephine Ona while giving her goodwill message expressed delight at the success story recorded by JONAPWD in space of 5 years and called for more sensitization and awareness creation on the need for immediate implementation of the provisions of the Anambra State Disability Right Law.
“The establishment of the law is a milestone in the journey to the creation of access to justice for persons living with disabilities in the state.
” I urge the relevant service providers to start making use of the sign language interpreters directory made available by RoLAC.
” Let’s not forget that this initiative was aimed at bridging the communication gap between the general public and the disability community. About 40 Sign Language interpreters have been trained by RoLAC and those available at Anambra State Disability Rights Commission are ever ready to serve if contacted.
She tasked JONAPWD Anambra State not to relate in continuous championing of disability rights issues whether funded or not especially now that a new administration has commenced.
Mrs Onah called for intensified advocacies aimed at sensitization of the implementation of the disability rights law and noted so many people are not in the know about the disability rights law.
She expressed optimism that someday public buildings like the State Civil Service Secretariate will have elevators and be very accessible for persons with disabilities.
Delivering his goodwill message, the chairman of the Anambra State Disability Rights Commission, Barrister Chuks Ezewuzie represented by the Coordinator of Operations in the Commission Mr Samuel Okoro appreciated RoLAC for all the funding and support given to Jonapwd that enabled them to achieve so many successes stories for the disability community in Anambra State.
” RoLAC has been a backbone in the fight for the rights of persons with disabilities and has lessened the responsibility burden of the Disability Rights Commission through the production of hard copies of the Anambra State Disability Rights Law, Sign Language Directory and now the funding of the Abridged Igbo and Pidgin version of the Anambra State Disability Rights Law.
” The commission has a large chunk of responsibilities geared towards the implementation of the disability rights law and we have mapped out strategies and means of making the public see the need to implement this law in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and on no distant time we will swing into action.
” We congratulate Jonapwd Anambra for these milestone achievements, and we will continue to support you in charting the course in securing a better future for persons with disabilities in the state.
Mr Okoro also called for immediate funding from the government, private individuals and development partners as it will help keep the commission working effectively as expected.
The state coordinator of the Legal Aid Council(LAC), Barrister Amaka Maduabuchi felicitated Jonapwd Anambra on the occasion of the abridged Igbo and pidgin version launch and commended RoLAC for funding.
” As a responsibility, the LAC is ever ready to provide free legal assistance representation and Legal advice for you when contacted.
” Through Civil Litigation Service we are mandated to provide legal assistance free of charge to persons with disabilities.
Barrister Maduabuchi also indicated that her office is interested in learning sign language.
The representative of the Anambra State Association of Town Union, Hon Ikechukwu Oforkansi, National Vice President III promised that he will disseminate the information gotten from the program to other president generals through sensitization and committed to implementing their role as it relates to the law.
Barrister Peter Mmoneke gave a simplified overview of the abridged disability law.
“This concise and summarized version of the law is meant to be a quick reference guide and aid in the usage of the law, and by no means an alternative or replacement of the full and precise provisions of the law.
“The law captures a wide range of issues of rights, privileges and societal interests of over two million persons with disabilities (PwDs) in Anambra State.
“The law domesticates and appropriates a robust spectrum of disabilities rights and precepts enunciated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its optional protocol.
Barrister Mmoneke called for the amendment of Section 6, which stated that the chairman shall serve on a part-time base for three years.
He emphasised that the chairman has a lot of duties that require a full-time base plan.
Sign Language Interpreters from the Anambra State Disability Rights Commission Mrs Chinwe Aniekwe Okeke and Mr Emmanuel Aniemene took time to enlighten the participants on the history of Sign Language and practical basic sign language while urging them to visit the DRC for further learning free of charge.
The high point of the event was the official unveiling of the abridged Igbo and pidgin version of the disability law.
Other stakeholders present at the event include the Media, Anambra State Association of Town Union(ASATU), National Orientation Agency( NOA), National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), CSOs, and representatives of different disability clusters called for more sensitisation of the abridged versions to enable the public to get acquainted with the full contents of the law and implement it.