By Bose Adelaja
THE Centre for Citizens with Disabilities has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, to conduct an audit of its processes to identify disability gaps and ensure that Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) are not marginalized in the electoral process.
Speaking with newsmen, in Lagos, yesterday, CCD Executive Director, David Anyaele, said the disability audit of the processes of the electoral body will help INEC in its planning and budgeting for the forthcoming local government election in Lagos State as well as gubernatorial election in Anambra state, and subsequent elections in the country.
CCD observers reported that INEC registration centres across the 18 local government areas had no sign language interpreters or special attendants for disabled persons coming for the Continuous Voters Registration exercise. It was also observed that INEC officials in 14 LGAs (i.e 70% of 20 LGAs visited), were not capturing PWDs data according to their disability types. Eighteen (18) of the INEC-CRV registration centres visited were located outside INEC offices at Local Government Areas in Lagos, hence, making it difficult for PWDs and even those without disabilities to locate the designated centres.
He said, ‘’Our assessment shows that 11 out of 20 LGAs (ie 55% of the registration centre visited) were characterized by barriers that hinder PWDs access to the centres. These barriers include – gutters , high slabs, unlevelled floors, steps/stairs and heaps of sand.
‘’The electoral body has also failed to fully comply with the Lagos State special peoples law (2010) that provides that special queues be provided for PWDs, as 6 LGAs (30%) did not have separate queues for PWDs at the Centre’’. David Anyaele, then tasked INEC, to organize more sensitization programmes for Nigerians about the on-going exercise.
He also called on INEC to train and re-train its officials on ways to capture and attend to PWDs of different clusters, disability friendly environments as registration centres, as well as to deploy sign language interpreters to the designated centres.