Senate Passes Bill Protecting DisabledPersons From Discrimination

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The Senate in Abuja on Thursday passed a bill that
will legally protect persons with disability from
discrimination.

Sponsored by Sen. Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman
(PDP-Kogi), the bill seeks to integrate such persons
into the society and establish a commission for
persons with disability.

The bill, titled ‘Discrimination Against Persons with
Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill, 2014′, prescribes a
fine of N1m for corporate bodies and N100,000 or
six months imprisonment or both for an individual
who contravenes the law.

Sen. Adamu Gumba (PDP-Bauchi) presented the
report of the Senate Joint Committee on Sports,
Social Development and Women Affairs on the bill.
Gumba, who is the Chairman of the joint
committee, said that over 10 per cent of Nigerians
had disabilities.

“Over 10 per cent of Nigeria’s population is said to
be disabled by sheer providence or accident and
these people are daily confronted with several
challenges.

“One of the most prominent among these
challenges is gross marginalisation occasioned by
discrimination on the basis of their infirmity.
“Therefore, one would agree that without
necessary legislation, the challenges that these set
of people encounter would be difficult to
overcome,” he said.

Gumba recalled that the sixth National Assembly
had passed a similar bill but the president withheld
his assent.
He said it was suspected that the president
withheld his assent because the Federal
Government planned to rationalise its agencies to
reduce the cost of governance.

He said the current initiative took cognisance of
the position and attempts to propose a small
agency that would be cost effective.

During the clause by clause consideration of the
bill, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Hayatu
Gwarzo (PDP-Kano), objected to the joint
committee’s amendment of clause six.

Clause six was amended to provide that “from the
commencement of the bill, all future public
buildings and structures either moveable or
immovable should be made accessible to persons
with disability.”

Gwarzo argued that the clause in the original
version of the bill which called for a transitory
period of five years within which all public
buildings and structures be made accessible to
persons with disability should be retained.

The clause generated a lot of debate but eventually
the senators voted to retain the original clause.
The bill states that anyone who approves or directs
the approval of a building that contravenes the
building code will be liable to a fine of N1m or two
years imprisonment or both.

The joint committee also amended clause 30 which
stipulates that five per cent employment be
reserved in all public organisations for persons
with disability.

The Senate took into cognisance the fact that some
organisations might have only two employees.
The clause was amended to read that any
organisation which had up to 50 employees should
reserve five per cent slot for people with disability.

The Senate also approved that the Director-General
of the National Pension Commission should be a
person with 15 years experience with adequate
qualification in pension matters.

The senators gave the approval when they began
clause by clause consideration of the report of the
Committee on Establishment and Public Service.
The report is on an Act to repeal the Pension
Reform Act 2004 and enact the Pension Reform Act
2013 to make provision for contributory pension
scheme.

Further consideration of the report was adjourned
to another legislative day.

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